Collateral (2004) Movie Review: The Michael Mann We Miss

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time something coincidental happens.

Take a Drink: every time Vincent kills someone.

Do a Shot: when you realize whom Felix the Cartel Leader that Max has to talk to is.

Finish your Drink: for Tom Cruise’s evil yet great performance.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –

On a fateful night, Max (Jami Foxx) picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), a hitman hired to kill five very important people involved with a Grand Jury indictment. Vincent, however, tells Max he’s closing a real estate deal and needs to make five stops and offers Max $500 to drive him around to all the stops and back to LAX. After the first stop goes awry and the man Vincent shoots falls out his window and onto Max’s cab, Vincent is forced to take Max hostage and drive him to the last four stops.

The film keeps picking up intensity and the further that Max and Vincent get into their night, the closer you find yourself to the edge of your seat, until Max learns that Vincent’s last stop is the beautiful Prosecuting Attorney Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), the same lady that earlier in the night Max took as a fare and ended up getting her number. Will Max be able to save her from the Wolf that is Vincent?

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A Toast

The big winner of this film is Tom Cruise. This could be by far his best performance, or at least a top five performance of his. He was a bad guy in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, but it is here that he truly shines. Jamie Foxx earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for his turn as Max, which was deserved. But if Foxx could get nominated, Cruise should’ve easily been up for his turn as the truly evil Vincent. He’s one movie bad guy that really has no redeemable qualities, and no actor in Hollywood could pull it off as well as Hollywood’s perpetual hero actor Tom Cruise.

Along with Tom Cruise’s performance, the chemistry between Cruise and Foxx is fantastic. Their interplay back and forth is almost like a couple who yammer to each other. It’s a credit to the writers and casting. I don’t think the film would work as well if you had two actors who couldn’t play off of each others’ emotions like Foxx and Cruise do.

The writing is sharp and witty and possibly has one of the best lines in a movie ever: “Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it.” Obviously, it doesn’t sound as good reading it- you’ll have to watch Tom Cruise deliver this line with perfection.

Another great thing about this film is the vibe. It’s just a cool film to watch, and I think another big reason besides Tom Cruise is the cinematography. Their decision to use high speed digital cameras was brilliant. In doing so they were able to catch Los Angeles and show its true beauty at night by capturing all the lights from the buildings and cars. This effect added greatly to the film since about 90% of the it occurs at night.  It was almost like they were using the city’s lights to light their filming.

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This is also a nod to not only the cinematographers but Michael Mann as well. He knows exactly what it takes to make a cool film. From Thief, to The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, and Ali, Mann can take just about any subject and make it entertaining and at the same time make a quality film, which seems almost impossible today.

 Speaking of a cool film, Collateral was made that much better by the soundtrack. The music is all over the place in terms of genres, but it totally works for the film. From grunge rock, jazz, classic R&B, to Korean techno, every song seemed to be hand-picked for a particular scene. Not only does it work, but it makes the film that much better as well. You’ll be able to listen to the soundtrack all the way through without skipping any tracks and you’ll be able to see the entire film in your head. That’s what makes a great soundtrack.

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1 1/2 Half Beers

My only real problem with the film is that Vincent’s last witness he has to kill is the Prosecutor (Jada Pinkett Smith) that Max drove in the beginning of the film. (SPOILERS) I realize it gives motivation for Max to ultimately kill Vincent instead of trying to ditch him in the end, giving the film a solid ending (SPOILERS OVER). With that said, are we supposed to believe that of all of the cabs in Los Angeles, Max picks up Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vincent in the same night?

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Verdict

Collateral is a brilliant, entertaining, intelligent, and cool-ass film. Although at times it can seem coincidental, that doesn’t depreciate from the overall film. The acting, directing, and cinematography is great. If you don’t know who Michael Mann is, or your introduction to him was Blackhat, I highly recommend you check this film or Heat out. Either film showcases his brilliance as a filmmaker perfectly.

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One comment

  1. This is definitely Michael Mann’s most bad-ass movie.

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