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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

climatic thriller

Author: petit76 from United States
12 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dirty, sun baked, sprawled, crowded... LA generally has its soul borne to us in sunsets and palm trees, highways and high-rises. Michael Mann and his creative eye for detail and engrossing storytelling style showed us a different Los Angeles. One of soft lights that spill from their street lamps, blues that mix with whites and mingle with greens. His veteran hand having wrought films such as HEAT and Ali, Mann delivers a beautifully created film, which compels the audience to not just watch and listen, but to be a part of the film, and to truly challenge the characters brought to life on screen.

Tom Cruise plays Vincent, a cold contract killer in LA for a single night of hits. Through an interesting course of events, Max (Jamie Foxx), a timid cab driver who lives on dreams never full realized, gets pulled into the whirlwind of murders as the driver for a hired assassin. The majority of the film is just that, Max and Vincent. Cruise drowns himself in the role, training in weapons handling for months beforehand and plays Vincent as a cobra, a natural killer of lightning reflexes and sudden violence. A contrast to Nathan Algren of The Last Samurai, Cruise plays a morally flexible man of questionable scruples quite well, characterizing a dystopian apathy well. Foxx gives a terrific and serious performance as Max, showing well his growth through the film. Also uncharacteristically heavy, the character of Max was a challenge well met by Foxx. The admiration between the two characters is evident only via the actor's incredible performances and without such subtle and silent respect for each other, the characters (and thus the film), would fail.

A modern Film Noir, Collateral starts with a smooth beat and never skips until the final notes. Music choice is excellent, flowing into and out of the smooth and extremely choosy camera work. Without interrupting the scene, the music simply adds to the pressure and tension. The first shots of the film set its tempo; a combination of quick shots of characterization, tearing tiny pieces of meaning from a whole, and large, smooth panning shots in filtered digital, lighting in even blues smoothing all of LA's rough edges, present the film immediately as a piece to be taken in. Los Angeles is presented in all of its sprawling, seedy glory as a ponderous, living, breathing and dangerous American Hell in the most beautiful way in years. Stylized artwork in the film results in beautiful scenes of high contrast, the medium gray of Vincent mixing with the blues, blacks and whites of the background and mis en scene to create compelling visuals. The smart dialogue, written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean), is short, often witty and has a knife fight nature of quick cuts and ripostes. Mann's camera continues to bring the audience into the movie, slipping us into the cab to nearly intrude on the dialogue between Vincent and Max as they explore each other's limits over a series of threats, philosophical discussion and guidance in a setting so tense it nearly quivers.

For most of the movie the audience never sees the action, only the Vincent and Max. Their growth is incredible, Mann coaxing amazing performances from his leading men. Masterful use of the camera, well written dialogue and incredible acting take a movie in which nothing happens, no explosions, no thunderous gunshots, no huge arguments or fanfare, and presents it as perhaps the most compelling and intriguing film in recent years.

A macabre relationship develops between Vincent and Max which leads into sibling rivalry, relationship and life advice, moral guidance and general discussion of life which is an area generally left to close friends to breach. Poetic scenes involving an understated fight for motherly affection and a question of morality of the hows and whens to kill lead to an intense relationship that seems to bond the two men. In terminus, the two realize their admiration for the contrasting aspects of the other man and the resultant event is a confrontation, a skillfully manufactured climax. The most compelling aspect of the film is not the content but what that content means. As Max and Vincent explore each other and developed, their conversations pose questions and begin to form inquiries in the minds of the audience. Some answers are the easy ones; others are much harder to come to resolution with. There is no right answer to any of them.

Never losing momentum, the film inexorably pushes onward through its motions, the audience running after it attentively. The third act of the film comes after a climactic gunfight and seems almost a let down until once again we are at home with Max and Vincent in the cleanest cab in LA. A series of quick twists deliver a more conventional final piece of the film, hurtling toward a final confrontation. It can not be emphasized how different the final part of the film is from the former pieces, nor how important it is to the film in its entirety. An interesting and intense crime drama, Collateral delivers in a way few films have in many years and will leave you walking away from the theater wondering at the significance of the film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride with a soul

Author: hnt_dnl from United States
9 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

COLLATERAL is the best film of 2004! It includes what very well may be Tom Cruise's greatest film performance, and to me, that's saying a lot. He gets too much flack for his personal life and beliefs, so Hollywood pretty much hates him and is biased against him. The irony is that 20 or so years ago (when he wasn't so strange) and when he was doing critically acclaimed films like COLOR OF MONEY, RAIN MAN, and BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, the excuse for not giving him an Oscar was that 'he was too young' or 'he made so much money so he doesn't need an Oscar, too' or 'his time will come'. Well, the time is long past. He should have won for JERRY MAGUIRE, a glaring oversight in 1996. Now EVERYONE in Hollywood makes a ton of money. For some inexplicable reason, Cruise is held up to a higher standard than a lot of stars that I believe are lesser than him talent-wise. So, now they don't have that excuse not to give him the award, so the excuse now is that 'he's a nut-job'. ...Whatever!

Cruise's performance in COLLATERAL is truly memorable and ironically underrated as he was not even nominated for Best Actor (as he should have been). It's one of the most fascinating performances of this decade so far. Cruise is totally believable and enthralling as a charming, lethal, detached, world-weary assassin. Cruise is not the only star of this film, though. Jamie Foxx is a revelation himself in COLLATERAL and he and Cruise form one of the best pairings in recent Hollywood history. Foxx gave Cruise a lot of credit for lifting his performance and Cruise immediately called Foxx to congratulate Foxx on his Best Actor nom for RAY (which COLLATERAL kind of set this up for; Foxx also got nominated Best Supporting Actor for COLLATERAL). You see, everyone doesn't hate Tom Cruise and Tom Cruise isn't the worst human being alive, folks!

OK, back to the film. Appropriately, it starts out with our introduction to Tom Cruise's character. We don't know his name yet, but he is very unique-looking (grayish hair, sunglasses, bright suit), but doesn't stand out too much. He "inadvertently" bumps into another guy at LAX, which is an excuse for them to switch bags. Then this unknown cool dude heads for downtown LA.

Max (Jamie Foxx) is an LA cab driver who is a perfectionist at his job (cab stays clean, uses the fastest/safest routes to get fares to their destination) but he has wanderlust and ideas, but fails to follow through. Max "purposely" picks up a fare Annie (Jada Pinkett-Smith in a sexy and mature performance), who is a prosecutor. Max and Annie have an interesting conversation that really sets the tone for the rest of the convos in the film. Max drops Annie off at her office building, then Cruises character arrives by subway-rail at the same time. They cross paths briefly as she goes up the escalator, him down. He ends up being Max's next fare and we learn his name is "Vincent". What do you wanna bet that's not his real name?!

Vincent needs Max to drive him around LA at 5 stops, saying that he is a salesman and has dealings with 5 "clients". He gives him $600 to do this. At the first stop, while Max is waiting, a dead body falls from the apartment complex above on Max's cab and he realizes that Vincent killed him and that he is a contract killer. From here on, Max is Vincent's prisoner and he is compelled to drive him to his destinations. The 2 men establish a kind of uneasy simpatico during the course of the rest of the film. Interestingly, both men are professional when it comes to their jobs, but Vincent has found his calling and Max has not. Vincent is focused, confident and without hesitation, while Max, personality-wise, is rather shy and under-confident. The core difference is that Vincent has a kind of charm and ease with how he deals with people but he is utterly detached from developing any deep connection with anyone, while Max is more shy, but he has the capacity to care.

There is a parallel story to Vincent and Max's, with a Latino cop Det. Fanning (excellently played by Mark Ruffalo) working with his police cronies and the FBI trying to figure out what is going on with the killings. Along for the ride are a bunch of supporting characters, some of which are basically cameo or one-scene roles, but you remember them long after you've seen the movie: the aforementioned Pinkett-Smith as Annie, Max's mother (scene-stealer Irma P. Hall), saxophone-player Daniel (exceptional work by veteran actor Barry Shabaka Henley), Vincent's employer Felix (superbly performed by Javier Bardem). Really, this cast is brilliant, all unique, believable characters.

Michael Mann directed the film and, in my opinion, this is his GREATEST accomplishment as a director. The film has an uber-cool, leisurely, atmospheric feel and tone which helps drive the story. The eclectic music in the film is perfectly placed and timed and places a unique signature for each scene. There are many great moments that stay with you long after you have seen the film. The true genius of this flick is that while the story idea/plot is 100% convoluted and unbelievable, the way that the situations play out are very realistic. A thrilling joyride of a movie that is contender for best film of the decade...THE END!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Instant classic, one of my favorites

Author: korn from Finland
4 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Collateral" tells the story of a hit-man Vincent (played perfectly by Tom Cruise), hired to kill five targets in Los Angeles with an every-day-taxi driver Max (played amazingly by Jamie Foxx) as his life insurance. Vincent's job is to take care of five witnesses and after the fourth one, Max decides to fight back and the race for the life of Vincent's final target begins.

This movie blew me away immediately I rested my eyes on it. The direction, acting and screen writing is beyond imagination. Exceptional directing can easily be seen from the detailed filming locations and backgrounds which are explained more than accurately on the "special features" -DVD.

I had never actually noticed Tom Cruise's extreme acting abilities before "Collateral". Cruise gives the character Vincent a soul which could not have been given by any other actor (playing a bad guy was a brilliant way to show Tom's more serious side and his dedication to what he does) and same as Jamie's character Max. What could be more brilliant than putting a philosophic, and slightly psychotic contract killer and a shy, vulnerable citizen in the same taxi cab having a conversation about life, death and everything between them?

"Collateral" is nothing like all other shoot-everything-up -movies. In Collateral there is philosophy, there is irony, there are exceptional characters and there is acting and direction which are the soul of the movie that should be in so many other films.

Tom Cruise showed us what he is able to do when necessary and therefore I move him to my "top 10 of actors" -list, which already includes for example Christian Bale from "American Psycho", Al Pacino from "Scarface" and Johnny Depp from "Edward Scissorhands". 9 out of 10 stars.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I am a cool guy, with a job I contracted to do.

Author: snottyscotty150 from United Kingdom
19 May 2007

Thats exactly what this film is, that one line sums it up. This is the only truly good film Micheal Mann film out there.

From the trailers you can see that it's got two of the biggest names in films to this date, Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, these two people in this film are what make it, and the story is so simple but yet such a ride. Micheal uses the same camera which he used to film Miami Vice but after watching and this you can tell that this is the better film.

It's not too bad on the running time side either with only 110 minutes or so making it an easy film to watch. Still the film starts off in an airport with two men exchanging brief cases and this is what most of the film is around what is contained within that, in the next seen we meet Max an average cab driver who is played by the excellent Jamie Foxx, now as the tag of the film suggests it starts like any other night.

After 15 minutes of not much happening the film suddenly moves into a world of it's own, as Max drops off a woman, who hes clearly pulled, by the name of Annie who is played by Jada Pinkett Smith (one of the only decent people in the Matrix sequels) still after dropping her off he meets Vincent who is played by Tom Cruise who just happens to be a contract killer who has to make several stops and a get away...who just happens to be Max.

There are loads of excellent moments in the film when Jammie and Tom have some really good lines off each other, also some of the scenes in which Tom does go into his own and typical action hero he does it as amazing as always, such as the scene when he has to get back his brief case from some "homies".

There is enough to keep you watching it and the ending is truly amazing, at some points however you do get abit "x y z" about the directing but nothing too bad and not as bad as in Manns next film Miami Vice which looked as if it was filmed for an A level media project. But the style of which he uses for this film works such as the shots in the car from PoV and the shots he uses of the just shows a whole other side to LA.

However there is nothing really bad about this film it is after all what it was meant to be a high action thriller, there are some typical shoots in places but some really excellent ones such as the nightclub scene which Mann tried to copy at the opening of Miami but failed on so many levels its unreal.

If you want to see a truly good film this this probably isn't for you since it's not the best but if you do however want to watch a film with a simple story and which has simple characters and is set mostly in a cab then this film is for you.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

dazzling and mesmerizing....

Author: vicdragon19-1 from Australia
14 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I knew this film had tom cruise as a bad guy - kind of like a weird idea, but everyone, in particular cruise, gives startling performances. Collateral takes one ordinary night for a taxi man (Foxx), who leads a pretty dull life full of unconfidence, into one that defines life and all expectations beyond human instincts. Cruise, who plays a confident, emotionless hit-man, takes Max (Foxx)hostage in order to make five stops to kill witnesses in an upcoming trial. BOth characters get an insight into their 'opposites', and how they both function in this strange, crazy unpredictable world.

Collateral, also poses some great scenery, with the city shown at night, when darkness takes over and nothing is what it seems. Both the characters of Vincent and Max are very likable characters in a sense, even though Vincent is a villain, you feel sorry for his upbringing and inability to connect emotionally. When Max confronts him about this in one of their philosophical convos, Vincnet replies 'of all the taxi cab drivers, I had to have Dr something.' or something like that.

The atmosphere you get from the film is a feeling of anticipation and excitement, as you see these characters develop in a bad situation. Max ultimately becomes the man he has aimed to be because of Vincent, leading him to change his perspective.

The only flaw in the film is that Max's life has been ruined by Vincent. He's exposure to crime syndicates and underworld leaders, in my opinion, will lead to his life being on the run. Even when he manages to rescue one of Vincent's potential victims, whom he met at the start of the film - Annie, their lives will be in fear and phonological trauma. I don't know about other viewers, but I really wanted to know what happened after the film's ending - what did they do? where did they go? did they stay together? these questions are up to the imagination of the viewer.

A breathtaking film, which is strengthened by very powerful performances, and a realistic look of the film, capturing those moments that seem rare to all of us but could happen to anyone, at anytime.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

again and again and again.....

Author: infranger from United States
7 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are only about a dozen or so movies that I can watch over and over again, and enjoy it every time. This is right at the top of my list. I usually like Cruise, dislike Foxx, and hate Mann, but wow, do they all come together in this one. The story is like an episode of Seinfeld, in that several seemingly incongruous events, characters, and plot lines all criss cross, without the people realizing it until the end. Yes, there are some gaping holes, such as Max not doing more to escape or get rescued (there are easily a half dozen situations where he could have gotten away), or why he didn't tell the cop he handcuffed that the US Attorney was in grave danger, but the movie gels so well, you just don't care. I always tell myself that even though he is calm, Max's world has been ripped out from under him, and it is amazing that he can think as well as he is anyways.

Mr. Mann, you have created a true masterpiece. I think this is the movie that Spielberg tried for and missed when he made Munich.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic in every aspect

Author: daniel charchuk
3 March 2007

Everything you could want from an action/thriller. An intriguing and original story, crackling dialogue, fantastic performances, superb direction, and some great action set pieces. The film is just all-around excellent. Cruise and Foxx have great chemistry and play off each other well, and the supporting characters add to the story without taking away from the two leads. The cinematography is simply stunning, and is showcased to full effect in the film's highlight, the nightclub scene. The end goes off the rails a bit, but it's simply an extension of what had been building the entire film. And the ending, though abrupt, is perfect for the film. Just a fantastic film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Don't forget the soundtrack !!

Author: carlak from Netherlands
18 February 2007

Fully agree with all the comments; but not only direction, acting and lightning are great, also the chosen music. Simply worth a soundtrack-CD. A fine mix of Latin, Pop, Lounge, Jazz and even classical motives, accompany the scenes. In most comments on films the chosen music is underrated. Imagine this film without the accompany of music. Most of the specific moods, tense and even sometimes relaxation will be missed and what than should rest is a normal thriller pumped full off classical bombary music. This chosen mix adds simply a most forgotten but necessary ingredient (like in most recipe's) a fine smoothing oil.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Unbelievable - Truly talented acting combines with stunning Direction

Author: the_charlie_daly from United Kingdom
10 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have always felt that with things such as ratings, one should save 9 and 10's for truly timeless movies that may redefine your view on films in general. But as strange as it sounds to say, I can find nothing wrong with the masterpiece that is Collateral.

This film noir is unbelievably subtle yet completely compelling. It proves to all that a 'good' movie doesn't require a huge budget, because as proved here you can't put a price on talent.

Tom Cruise leads this on its otherwise limp feet. Never have I seen such a fascinating character build than Tom's Vincent. I say build because that is quite simply what it is. What Tom shows us is that no human is completely impenetrable, no matter how well trained. We see this in Vincent by the calculated coolness and mathematical killing that he has programmed himself to do which yet falters in a few situations during the film: the killing of the Jazz musician and the occasional fletching look after he has killed him. Vincents love of Jazz makes him realise what he is doing, but only for the fletching moment which is then quickly thrown out in his pursuit for the remainder of his targets. I know see Tom Cruise as one of the most talented actors I have ever seen.

Yet Jamie Foxx's role must never be underestimated, as he proves the equal to Cruise, both in character and in acting ability. His step away from comic acting has been a successful one, as he plays the lonely and collective cab driver Max.

The relationship between the two characters is the driving force of the entire movie. The wariness of each other which soon grows and develops as these two characters create a bond that the most important one of both of their life.

Whilst the ending has been criticised for its predictability, there is no other real conclusion possible as one of these two men must fall. But frankly, I believe that this can be happily over looked, as the rest of the plot and the pairs relationship has enough twists and turns to satisfy.

And to be honest, some moments of this movie are grippingly tense, such as the library cat-and-mouse, the dramatic and sudden car crash and the dependency during and after the night club scene.

And as much as Max and Vincent are characters in this movie, the third main character in this movie is the city of LA. Never has a place been so unnervingly portrayed through someones eyes, in this case Mann's. The pallet of colours and locations are vital to the greatness of this film, and can not be overlooked. Small touches like the coyotes (can't spell it, sorry!) add a touch to this movie that parallels some of Vincents views of mankind: the selfishness, the insignificance, the loneliness etc.

Frankly I could go on about this movie forever, so simply do yourself a favour, whether you are a fan of a brilliantly executed film showing someones view on mankind and life or simply love a great thriller, go and see the masterpiece that is Collateral.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Cinematic Masterpiece

Author: dwpeak from United States
24 December 2006

Michael Mann is quite possibly the greatest American filmmaker alive today. I have seen all but two of his movies, and there is only one I would not want to see; "The Keep." Everything from "Thief," "The Last of the Mohicans," "Heat," "The Insider," "Ali," and the highly underrated "Miami Vice," Michael Mann has proved himself over and over again to be a very smart and very real filmmaker.

In his 2004 film "Collateral" he takes his game to a whole new level. Tom Cruise, a very good actor, (But one who needs to sort out some personal problems) takes the role of "Vincent." In the beginning of the film we have no idea who he is. Steel gray suit and beard. The shades. What is this movie about? Jamie Foxx plays cab driver "Max," a man with high hopes, but one who does not have the the will to act on them. Considering the plot is out in the open, there's no point in calling it a spoiler; Vincent is a hit man. He's ruthless, cold- hearted, and wickedly funny at times. Tonight he has a job. He needs a ride. That, of course, happens to be Max. This movie is about conversation. It is about two men, completely different from each other, and how they realize that they are the only two that understand each other.

When you read about the plot, some will think it to be an action movie; a shoot- 'em up. Do not be mistaken. This film is talk. Talking about life, missed opportunities, and what's to come. If you do not handle films with a lot of dialogue in them, this is not for you. I also believe it is some of the best-written dialogue on film. Great writing by Stuart Beattie, Frank Darabont, and Michael Mann (yes, three people were involved in the dialogue. Frank Darabont wrote a revised draft, and Michael Mann made numerous revisions, including several lines of the movie). I believe that of all screenplays, this one could beat most any.

Terrific directing also helps this movie. Just looking at the movie, you know this director was born with a gift. Michael Mann makes this movie in such a way, that it wouldn't have been as good with another one in the pilot's seat. I don't care what you think about Tom Cruise. This is his best performance, and if you don't think he can act 'bad' or 'evil,' I'd remain quiet and wait until you see the movie. A very, very convincing performance. I like many others, believe he was snubbed out of a best actor nomination in '04. Jamie Foxx, who was nominated, delivers a wonderful, solid performance as the cabbie Max. It is secondary only to his performance in "Ray." Other great performances come from Barry Shabaka Henley, Mark Ruffalo, Bruce McGill, and Jada Pinkett Smith. Many complain about the ending of this film. I have a question: how was he supposed to end it? It was very well directed and suspenseful, simply mixing elements to the film that had not yet been present. It was a great finish, and especially the last lines of this movie make you feel something you never thought you would; sadness. Wait and see for yourself. I now own the DVD, and must say this film is a tradition. Two other members of my immediate family own it as well. There's nothing not to like; graceful cinematography, superb acting, masterful directing, and a wonderful film. Worth every minute of your time to see. Among the very best of Michael Mann. Among the very best of our time.

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