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.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.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.
Beyond this memorable scene, there is an edgy undercurrent to nearly all of the conversations in "Collateral," starting with the engaging scene in the cab between Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith. All of the performances in this film are outstanding, especially Foxx as the intelligent, underachieving cab driver. I especially admired how the director subtly conveyed within the psyche of Tom Cruise's contract killer a mystery about the character's past. There is a long scene where the hit-man Vincent tells a harrowing tale of family abuse when he was a child, then informs cabdriver Max that he was just kidding. But was he? There are many complexities to the characters effectively layered into the film by Mann.
The stylish cinematography is another trademark of Mann's work. His choices in colors and lighting aesthetics are especially noteworthy in "Collateral." The location filming in Los Angeles, including the different nightclubs were memorable moments of the film. The unique stamp of Mann's style was apparent in an early film like "Thief" (1981), which was ahead of its time in film technique. In "Collateral," the overall effect is that of a "Naked City" presented with brutal honesty.
For all of its gritty realism, however, some of the action sequences, especially the climactic "death" scene, were surprisingly incredible. There are lengthy chase scenes on totally deserted streets in downtown Los Angeles. For anyone who has driven around L.A. at any time of the day or night, it would be difficult to imagine zipping around freeways and streets that look like those portrayed in this film. In the 60 years since the curfew imposed during the years of World War II, there have never been streets as empty in Los Angeles as those depicted in "Collateral."
- Jun 12, 2005