A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.
LA cabbie Max Durocher is the type of person who can wax poetic about other people's lives, which impresses U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell, one of his fares, so much that she gives him her telephone number at the end of her ride. Although a dedicated man as seen through the efficiency in which he does his work, he can't or won't translate that eloquence into a better life for himself. He deludes himself into believing that his now twelve year cabbie job is temporary and that someday he will own his own limousine service. He even lies to his hospitalized mother that he already owns one, with a further lie that he tells her as such primarily to make her happy, rather than the truth which is that he won't do anything to achieve that dream. One night, Max picks up a well dressed man named Vincent, who asks Max to be his only fare for the evening. For a flat fee of $600, plus an extra $100 if he gets to the airport on time - Vincent wants Max to drive him to five stops ... Written by
For the better part of his career, Tom Cruise has played the All-American good guy. Gleaming eyed and bushy tailed, Cruise has played the roll of the hero in many films and is certainly the richer for it.
Something happened along the way, though. Cruise wanted to be considered a legitimate actor, rather than merely a "movie star." Therefore, we've seen him go against type, successfully (MAGNOLIA), and not so much (THE LAST SAMURAI). It's as if Cruise is the neglected kid in the back of the classroom who knows all of the answers but is never called upon, and therefore will go to desperate ends for attention. "Oh, Oh!! Pick me!!! Pick me!!!"
For me, Cruise hit it this time. His character in COLLATERAL is a menacing study in coldness. It is a thoroughly believable depiction of an utterly ruthless hit-man. It seems, finally, Cruise is actually BAD, rather than merely acting bad. He disdains his usual tricks in favor of a simple and very real performance.
Let us not forget Jamie Foxx. His character's transformation into a hero is rendered all the more effective by how wonderfully Foxx captures his character's initial impotence and bewilderment. It's a wonderfully effective, energetic, and yet very subtle performance.
Special kudos to Michael Mann. He has a very interesting eye when it comes to capturing the city of Los Angeles on film. His vision of L.A. in this film is one of unease and uncertainty, hardly the usual glitz and glamor treatment. This work is always compelling to the eye and paced to keep the action moving ever forward. Each scene has its own logic, contributing to the overall whole. This is first rate film-making.
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