To pay for his girlfriend's (Jones) medical emergency while abroad, Casey (Hoult) schemes to pull a drug heist for an eccentric gangster (Kingsley). After a failed attempt, he embarks across Europe on an action-packed chase in a race against time to save his girlfriend's life from being taken by an evil druglord (Hopkins). Written by
For all its various faults, Collide should be considered a tiny miracle. The story is not very good, the acting ranges from passable to laughable and its tendency to tease pretension feels beyond silly. But the action does at times feels like an amalgam of decent inspiration and cool lo-fi ideas. Think second-rate Transporter (2002) tropes mixed with the quick-paced plodding of something like Cellular (2004) only with all the humor slowly bled out of it.
Nicholas Hoult plays reformed car thief and incurable American Casey Stein who gives it all up for the love of a girl played by Felicity Jones. They live only for each other, sharing the honeymoon stage of their new relationships with uncommon (and unreal) naivety. Thus when Juliette (Jones) admits she's suffering from kidney failure, it comes at a bit of a shock to both Casey and audiences still prone to caring. Casey then decides to pull off one more heist for the sake of operation money because, you know, that's how movies like these go.
It's also important to mention this film takes place entirely within Germany specifically in and around Cologne where quaint cobblestone streets and new concrete pylons uneasily collide. The setting goes a long way in giving the action and suspense enough of a unique flavor. We've got foot chases bursting through tight rows of provincial town homes, close escapes among crowded subways stations and clumsy car chases through famously swift autobahn traffic. If Collide were nothing more than a highlight reel of Nicholas Hoult attempting to be an action star, you could certainly do worse.
Unfortunately, Collide takes far too long to set up its rehearsed batch of completely competent action set pieces. And once it does start sputtering towards the finish line, we're constantly reminded of all the vacuous bits the movie insists are important. So much time is taken to setup Casey and Juliette's storybook romance but it's done using the laziest of clichés. It's a litany of prosaic, self-serious and boring treacle that looks and sounds like it's even painful for the actors involved. The camera even captures their airless, personality-less scenes with the same polished artificiality of a magazine photo shoot.
Being provided such as lackluster script, at least Hoult and Jones do seem game for the challenge. Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley on the other hand seem to be one-upping each other to see who can do the worst impression of a crime kingpin since Gary Cole in Pineapple Express (2008). Both actors don't so much talk as they erupt in fits of word salad, the only difference of which is one keeps referencing Shakespeare while the other references Smokey and the Bandit (1977). The two veteran actors share the screen only once and in this particular moment of climax, it felt as if they were almost winking at each other.
Yet even at it's most foppish, Collide still manages to keep its gears churning like a tightly wound clock. Everything that can possibly kill this passable action flick stops just short of being lethal and that does include Anthony Hopkins power blue suit. Much like the similarly themed Abduction (2011), Collide is nothing more than a veiled excuse to throw a pretty looking face into a boilerplate action movie to see if his charisma can carry the day. In both cases the results are unfortunate but at least in Hoult's case it's not downright tragic.
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