Max (Jamie Foxx) has been a cab driver for 12 years. Then on a single night he has two fares that change his life - and theirs. Annie (Jada Pinkett-Smith) is the DA, a prosecutor on a huge case. They strike a chord with each other. Next up is Vincent (Tom Cruise), a contract killer, working a round of targets in Los Angeles; he wants Max to drive him to work. Max is traumatised but has no choice, and they begin a tumultuous, in-cab relationship. Vincent's targets are informers who threaten to jail a narcotics lord, Felix (Javier Bardem)... who is Annie's target. When the final informer is found, Vincent has one more assignment: Annie. Now Max realises he does have a choice.
Review by Louise Keller:
An intense, splendid thriller that roars like an engine, Collateral is a bit like riding on a knife's edge. With gripping performances by Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, Collateral is the story of two men brought together by chance. One is a killer, the other a cab driver. At first glance they seem worlds apart, but under the magnifying glass, they are not as different as we first think. Both men are expert at what they do, but more importantly, they take pride in their work.
Academy Award winning director Michael Mann (The Insider) weaves together this complex story with all the skill of an artist layering his palette. With a narrative that unwinds during one long night, Mann uses tight close-ups combined with integrated aerial shots, allowing a sense of scale as we traverse the streets of LA. James Newton Howard's music is used as fuel, with hypnotic percussive rhythms alternating with gentle passages that act as calm before the storm.
It's a powerful performance from Cruise; we have no difficulty believing him or confusing him with Mr Nice Guy, as he fuses callousness and charisma. Cruise is lithe both physically and mentally, and his Vincent never ceases to surprise us. The contrast between Vincent and Jamie Foxx's Max is as tangible as the glass divider that separates a cab driver from his fare. Max is Everyman, the responsible battler who visits his sick mother in hospital each day, and keeps his dream alive by taking a frequent peek at the photograph of a fantasy island getaway tucked behind the sun visor.
Vincent is immaculately dressed in a well-cut grey suit and open neck white shirt, his hair tinged with grey and beard neatly clipped. Even Max's practised eye in assessing his cab fares cannot guess the profession of his elegant, brief-case toting passenger. 'We have to adapt to the environment,' says Vincent, a fact that Max quickly learns as the evening progresses. Watch for the memorable jazz club scene, when Vincent describes what jazz is like. 'It's off-melody... not what's expected - like tonight.'
All the performances are superb: Jade Pinkett Smith's sympathetic attorney, Irma P. Hall as Max's irrepressible mother, Mark Ruffalo's under-cover FBI agent and Javier Bardem's ruthless Felix. Unavoidably, Max sinks deeper and deeper into the mire and the scene in which Felix recounts a parable about Santa and his helper is one of the film's highlights. Tension mounts as chaos erupts in the crowded nightclub. Then it's nail biting time, as things speed up to a thrilling conclusion. It's a shame the final confrontation borders on melodrama - why couldn't the filmmakers end the film in as intelligent fashion as it began - but it never spoils the experience.
Collateral is every bit as satisfying as a thriller should be, keeping us hanging at every turn. As the credits roll, we are out of breath.
The two-disc collector's edition DVD has an interesting mix of special features, elevated by Michael Mann's involvement. He talks about the characters in the making of feature, explains how the atmosphere is set up on the location in Annie's Office, and goes into detail about how Tom Cruise trained to make deliveries without being conspicuous. If you are interested in watching actors rehearse, flip straight to the Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx rehearsal featurette, which shows them rehearsing in both Michael Mann's office and on a soundstage. Cruise reads his lines from the script and in split screen, we watch both the rehearsals and the final scene from the movie. Highlight of the DVD is the 40 minute making of feature which includes fascinating comments by Cruise, Foxx and Mann, and we get an acute insight into the filmmaking experience. A DVD worthy of the film.
February 10, 2005
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COLLATERAL: DVD (MA)
CAST: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Farina, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Paul Adelstein
PRODUCER: Michael Mann, Julie Richardson
DIRECTOR: Michael Mann
SCRIPT: Stuart Beattie
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dion Beebe, Paul Cameron
EDITOR: Jim Miller, Paul Rubell
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Wasco
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of feature; deleted scene with Michael Mann commentary; shooting on location in Annie's office; visual effects; special delivery featurette; Tom Cruise/Jamie Foxx rehearsal Featurette
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
DVD RELEASE: February 10, 2005