Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.
Over a thirty-six hour period in Los Angeles, a handful of disparate people's lives intertwine as they deal with the tense race relations that belie life in the city. Among the players are: the Caucasian district attorney, who uses race as a political card; his Caucasian wife, who, having recently been carjacked by two black men, believes that her stereotypical views of non-whites is justified and cannot be considered racism; the two black carjackers who use their race both to their advantage and as an excuse; partnered Caucasian police constables, one who is a racist and uses his authority to harass non-whites, and the other who hates his partner because of those racist views, but who may have the same underlying values in his subconscious; a black film director and his black wife, who believes her husband doesn't support their black background enough, especially in light of an incident with the racist white cop; partnered police detectives and sometimes lovers, one Hispanic female ...Written by
Michael Peña, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, and Shaun Toub all have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the latter two appearing in Iron Man (2008), but again had no scenes together. Don Cheadle replaced Howard in Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013), with the latter featuring a cameo by Toub. Peña appeared in Ant-Man (2015) as Luis. See more »
When Daniel comes in to speak with Farhad after fixing his lock, two members of the production crew can be seen attempting to hide behind one of the store shelves in the bottom-left corner of the frame. See more »
It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.
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The film's title isn't shown until all of the opening credits are completed. See more »
The two-disc director's cut DVD features an additional two minutes of dialogue and footage See more »
Like Altman's classic Short Cuts, and Anderson's Magnolia, Crash, by writer/director Paul Haggis weaves a tale of multiple characters through the web of streets we have come to know as Los Angeles. Unlike those other two films this one has a very specific theme to explore. From the opening line uttered by Don Cheadle we know this is to be a film about how people relate, and from the interchange that follows between Jennifer Esposito and Alexis Rhee (pretty sure she plays the Korean female driver who rear-ended her) how people relate tends to be ruled by first impressions or prejudice.
Race is paramount in this film, and all our preconceptions of who people are get twisted and turned through the intricate plot. With each new additional character we find another assumption, another stereotype, and then watch as that preconception is obliterated as the character develops. It is a credit to the deftly written script, tight direction and exceptional acting talent that every one of these many characters is fully realized on screen without ever feeling one-dimensional.
I would love to discuss some of the details of what happens to explain how well it is done, but part of the magic of this film is allowing yourself to be taken on this ride. Mind you, this isn't a ride of pleasure. The first half of this film is unrelentingly in its ferociousness. I could literally feel my rage at some of the characters forming to a fever pitch. The fear and hatred I was confronting wasn't just on the screen, but in the pit of my stomach. And in one absolutely brilliant moment I was literally sobbing at the expectation of horror unfolding, only to be cathartically released in a most unexpected way.
Mr. Haggis was in attendance at the screening I saw and explained that the idea for this film came to him one night sometime after 9/11 at about 2a.m. when his own memories of a car- jacking experience from 10 years before wouldn't leave him alone. Clearly this film was his way of relieving those demons of memory, using the catharsis of his art to unleash them and in doing so has given to all viewers of cinema an opportunity to examine our own preconceptions about race relations and how we treat each other and think of ourselves. He mentioned in the discussion after-wards that he likes to make films that force people to confront difficult issues. Films that ask people to think after the film has ended and not just leave saying: "that was a nice film".
This isn't a "nice" film, and I would expect that it will provoke many a discussion in the ensuing weeks when it opens nation-wide. It's a discussion long overdue for this country, and it took a Canadian to bring the issue to the fore in this brilliant, thought provoking film.
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