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(I) (2004)

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Review: Ensemble cast delivers top-notch performances in reflective drama
Brambo11 September 2004
In a drama strikingly reminiscent in style and tone of P.T. Anderson's film Magnolia (1999), the narrative in Crash shifts between 5 or 6 different groups of seemingly unconnected characters, whose relationships to each other are only revealed in the end.

Not to be confused with the David Cronenberg feature of the same name, this Crash is the feature-length, studio-released directorial debut of veteran Canadian TV writer/producer/director and two-time Emmy-winner Paul Haggis. An in-depth exploration on the themes of racism and prejudice, cause and effect, chance and coincidence, and tragedy, "crash" is a metaphor for the collisions between strangers in the course of day-to-day existence. Set over a 24-hour period in contemporary L.A., it is a social commentary on the interconnectedness of life in the big city.

Crash features a top-notch ensemble cast which includes: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillipe and Larenz Tate. All put in superb performances in a tight script which is at once gritty, heartwarming, shocking, tragic and witty, and which will ring true with viewers of all demographics.

Centering around two disturbing car accidents, a carjacking, vicious workplace vandalism, and the suspicious shooting death of one police officer by another, the drama is set against the backdrop of a racist LAPD and Los Angeles justice system. Action shifts between the various characters, whose lives collide with each other in unpredictable ways as each faces their own moral dilemma, and tries to cope with the consequences of their resulting decision made or action taken. Each of the dozen or so main characters undergoes some type of a personal metamorphosis as the various story lines head toward a striking, common conclusion, which succeeds at being both cathartic and unsettling.

Crash is backed by a solid and varied, original soundtrack and excellent cinematography. Sweeping, wider shots alternate with disjointed camera angles which convey the chaos and confusion of the characters and the unpredictability of life. Occasional lingering close-ups -- on occasion without sound -- capture the actors' facial expressions, which suitably detail key moments of the characters' aching pain, fear, anger, bitter anguish, remorse or grief, far better than any dialogue could.

This breathtaking film is destined to be a critical smash and box-office hit. Five stars.
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Volatile Redemption
mercybell13 May 2005
"Crash" is a complex movie with a simple premise: set in Los Angeles it follows 8 main characters (and many, many more supporting) from all walks of life and races whose lives intersect at some point during one 24 hour period. These people are all different yet all alienated, to the point of breaking, so much so that when they come together, things explode.

The complexity of the film comes from the encounters between characters and their tangled lives and worlds. Haggis' screenplay is so intricate and delicately written I couldn't begin to try to summarize the actual plot line (which destines this article to be kind of vague), but everyone meets everyone else at some point in the film (and there are a whole lot of characters). Sufficed to say these meetings are variably intense, casual, fleeting, dangerous, but they all effect the participants in profound and provocative ways, causing lives to find enlightenment or swerve violently, and watching it all unfold is mesmerizing because Paul Haggis (Oscar Nominated writer of Million Dollar Baby) made the film meaty with messy characters and topics and stories to chew and hurtle along with.

The all-encompassing theme of the film is racism, and it is dealt with bluntly, honestly, and without reservation. Every single character participates in the perpetuation of the ugly cycle but also suffers because of it. Where racism makes for an interesting enough subject for an already provoking and fairly experimental film (I was surprised to see this get wide release), it's only the catalyst for a deeper, resounding story of redemption and the universality of our lonely situation which the movie becomes during its second hour (what you could call Act II). It switches from a somewhat depressing contemplative amalgamation of moments about racism in everyday life and how destructive it is, to a throbbing, intense web of choices and consequences -- life and death, vivifying or soul killing -- and the chance at redemption.

Following their actions in Act I, everyone meets a fork in the road or is given a second chance of some sort. Some take it, some don't, but regardless, by the end of the movie everyone has changed. This is what gives the movie wings during its second hour, makes it interesting, keeps you guessing and on knife's-edge. It also gives the characters depth and souls and shows that despite perceived and upheld differences, when it comes down to it we aren't different (which we see in a shattering scene between Ryan Philippe and Larenz Tate after Tate notices that he and Philippe have the same St. Christopher statue), in fact we desperately need each other. It's one of the few films I've seen where everyone is at fault somehow and yet there are no villains. It makes it hopeful, particularly with something as ugly as racism: everyone's fallible, but everyone has the capacity for good and nobility. That said, each of these character's inner struggles makes for all the conflict and resolution you need.

A talented ensemble drives the film, sharing almost equal amounts of screen time, but the folks who really stood out and had my full attention each time were Terrence Howard (plays a TV director), Matt Dillon (as a patrol cop), Sandra Bullock (a rich housewife), , Don Cheadle (a detective), and Michael Peña (a locksmith). These five gave deeply, deeply felt performances portraying a wide range of emotions and personal situations, giving souls -- alone, yearning, and searching in a world that doesn't seem to care -- to shells of imperfect people. But the actors triumph in little moments of human contact: a glance, an embrace, a pause, a smile, a wince, things that breath the film to life and with simple visuals give it profundity. This is beautifully illustrated in a small scene between the downward spiraling Jean (Sandra Bullock) and her maid after she's begun to realize all her problems may not be about the two black guys who car jacked her, but her own life.

Some closing notes: it's obvious it's a debut. At times the dialogue and acting can be stilted and unnatural; some of the initial "racial" situations seem forced; certain scenes could have used some editing or fine tuning, but by the end I didn't care. It also may be helpful to know that the first hour spends its time setting everything up for Act II, although it will seem more like a photo essay on racism than a setup. But by the time Act I ends you're ready for something substantial to happen, and at the perfect moment, stuff happens. I was entirely satisfied with this movie, I couldn't have asked for anything more. Still it's impressive, with his debut Haggis made a film that magically maintains a storytelling balancing act about people's lives that almost seamlessly flows, takes an honest look at racism with an understanding of mankind, a belief in redemption, and even hope. As I walked out of the theater into the rainy night it resonated with me and colored my thoughts as I made my way through the crowds of unknown fellow people filling the cinema. That's about all I can ask for in a film.
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Roller-coaster of emotions
Vitarai1 May 2005
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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The #2 Feel Bad Movie of the 2000s
rooprect2 October 2019
"Crash" is a superbly made film. The actors are first rate, the camera style is engaging, and production value is tops. And despite all this, I would never recommend it to anyone. Why? I'll explain in my 4th paragraph but first let's talk about the story.

This film follows the lives of a dozen or so people over the course of 2 days all living in Los Angeles. The opening scene gives us the aftermath of some ambiguous tragedy (the titular "crash"), and the next scene flashes back to "yesterday" and shows us the events in these people's seemingly unrelated lives, leading up to that opening moment. If you've seen "House of Sand and Fog" (the #1 Feel Bad Movie of the 2000s), you'll recognize an identical sort of chronology and foreboding tone--so similar that I wonder if the Crash filmmakers were somehow involved in House as well. Both films are very powerful and effective at what they aim to do, and that is, simply put, to disturb us.

Disturb us it does. Within the first 15 minutes, we see things that are so disturbing to the pit of our souls that I almost shut the movie off twice. Racism, hate, justified racism, justified hate, brutal stereotypes. The film masterfully shows us not only the worst quality of humankind but it scrutinizes the reasons why humans are this way. There's no good guy/bad guy; it's all bad guys. The first 15 mins is designed to make us hate almost every character, if not every race. By showing the atrocity that each race supposedly inflicts on the other, it paints us a Hatfield-McCoy cycle of hatred that has no known origin. It just exists and burns hotter. Non-whites are subverted by white society, so they exact revenge by committing crimes against white people which in turn causes the white police to hate and abuse non-white people who in turn become criminals against white people. The cycle of hate is not only explained but validated in a well-crafted, brutally told, highly disturbing way.

Which leads me to the 4th paragraph where I explain why I would never recommend this film. It's because IT JUST MAKES YOU FEEL BAD. For nearly 2 hours you get the same feeling you get when you watch too much cable news. And just as psychologists warn that watching too much news leads to depression, I would say the same can be said of films like this which, like the news, expose and scrutinize the absolute worst of humanity.

But then one might say that films like this are necessary to inspire change. Normally I would agree, and I'm sure that that's the intent of the filmmakers here. But let me ask you: who needs to change? Answer: racists and bigots. But are racists and bigots really going to be watching "Crash", stroking their beards and saying "Golly, I need to stop being a racist"? Probably not. And that is the film's undoing. By taking a heavy, ponderous, complex look at racism and hate, it alienates the fury-driven haters who most need to grasp this message. And instead "Crash" merely preaches to the choir, making the choir feel gawd awful lousy about the state of the world.

The film attempts to lead us to redemption, and there is at least 1 truly powerful scene of triumph that's worth the price of admission. However, other subplot resolutions seem a bit contrived, if not completely unnecessary, such as one character's climactic tragedy & epiphany which was so random I literally burst out laughing (the moral of the story being: don't wear socks indoors!). Ultimately "Crash" tries to tie things up neatly with a positive message, but it's precisely this neat tie-up, simultaneously with every sub-plot, that feels a bit contrived and ultimately unbelievable. At the risk of cutting out half the award-winning cast, perhaps the film should have focused on just 1 story & resolution, rather than pulling the "Fantasy Island" formula of having half a dozen stories wrap up neatly in the last 10 minutes.

Ultimately, despite its excellent presentation and first class acting, "Crash" couldn't sell me on its optimistic spin and instead left me feeling pretty horrible about the reality of living in a world where racists don't often have magical transformations. If you understand what I'm saying, you might want to skip this flick because, regardless of how it ends, the subject will just make you feel bad.
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THE Definitive Cinematic Work on Tensions/Issues Within the "Melting Pot" That Is the USA!
KissEnglishPasto18 July 2016
....from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L. A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA and ORLANDO, FL

After seeing CRASH for the first time, in September, 2005, I said " WOW!... Why haven't I found out about this movie before?" (Well, maybe it's because it was released in the U. S. just a week before going to Colombia on vacation, on May 14, 2005.) This is the kind of film that you often dream about seeing, but are really lucky if just one of its caliber is released in a year!

Scenes from the Movie seem to have kept swirling around in my brain for weeks! Below, I'm going to explain why: CRASH impacts not so much for its action as, perhaps, its title might imply, nor fantastic scenes utilizing dazzling "CGI" effects, but by the undeniable quality and human warmth of the story it tells.

Time and again, CRASH shows us people, whom, at first, seem so easy to decipher, so black and white, and then, in a matter of seconds, disorients us with a chilling dose of unadulterated, hard reality: People are not at all one-dimensional, like in the comics. We are flesh and blood, replete with clandestine simmering passions, occult emotional scars, irrational internal conflict, and oftentimes victims of relentless, implacable, merciless fate! In stark contrast to its title, CRASH impacts for the subtlety that it displays from beginning to end. Boasting a truly majestic cast, CRASH is directed, orchestrated and integrated with inspiration by Paul Haggis, who also demonstrates here his creative genius in the capacity of writer, producer and composer. There is absolutely none of the "formula", which so infects almost all Hollywood films, in this independent Lions Gate Films production.

CRASH takes place in my hometown of Los Angeles, which serves, in this case, as a microcosm representative of the entire United States. (Which is really not all that far removed from reality.) That there have been films in the past that have focused on racism or racial prejudice is undeniable. The vast majority of these pontificate on racism as the worst of evils, in a repetitive manner, without any real in-depth perspective. In addition, they almost always focus on one particular ethnic group. (Prejudice against blacks, Jews, Mexicans, etc.) More often than not, in these films the oppressed are all saints and the oppressors are all demons! There is a certain disconnect with reality. In contrast, there is multiracial interaction in CRASH. Whites with blacks, blacks with Asians, Orientals with Latinos, Asians with whites, Arabs with whites, blacks with Latinos, etc.

In its notes about the production, IMDb lists a figure of just 6.5 million as the total cost of production. Absolutely amazing, considering that within the cast there are several actors who probably typically charge 5 to 10 million to perform in just one movie! Sandra Bullock (GRAVITY), Don Cheadle (Ocean 's Twelve, Hotel Rwanda), Matt Dillon (Something About Mary), Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, George of the Jungle) and Ryan Philippe (Cruel Intentions), all in roles that are in stark contrast to the type of role that made them famous, and each portrays a resonating, multi-faceted character who is very credible. CRASH makes it easy to identify with many of its characters, regardless of race, ethnicity or country of origin.

There are no sex scenes or graphic violence in CRASH, but as there are many issues that are aimed at adults, consequently, it doesn't seem that CRASH would be of much interest to those under 12 years of age. Of over 100,000 movies on IMDb, CRASH is ranked at Number 334 and rated a 7.9!

...ENJOY/DISFRUTELA! Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Español, are most welcome!
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There is Good and Bad in All of Us
asbufra@yahoo.com23 April 2005
There is good and bad in all of us. This movie explores this like no other. It will make you think about the nature of bigotry and stereotypes. The characters switch from heavy to hero in a way that is deeply moving and exhilarating. It is TV drama style writing where several different groups of characters and plots interweave (Paul Haggis) but with none of the limits of TV, it reminded me of "Hill Street Blues" which from me is a big compliment. I am a Don Cheadle fan and he captures the role. Sandra Bullock plays against character and pulls it off with ease. The most impressive performance to me was Ryan Phillippe's. Almost every nationality in LA was represented and they all were interesting and realistic. The ensemble cast and various plots blend together and keep your interest. Cast is great, music is haunting, writing is superb. Go see this movie.
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Bold and Compelling Treatise on Racism in Modern Society
WriterDave7 May 2005
Take the pop-cultured infused socio-political discourse of a Spike Lee movie, the glossy grit of a Michael Mann LA crime story, and the compelling mosaic story-telling technique of a Paul Thomas Anderson film, and you'll get the "feel" for Paul Haggis' stunning directorial debut. To boil a film like "Crash" down to such terms, however, would do it severe injustice. Powerful and thought provoking, this is the most accomplished and compelling film since "21 Grams" premiered back at the end of 2003.

"Crash" brilliantly shows through intertwining vignettes, that are often blazingly funny in their brutal honesty and fascinatingly gut-wrenching in their melodrama, how subtle racism (often guised in nervous humor) and overt prejudice (often exasperated by sudden irrational violence and an overabundance of readily available firearms) completely permeate our culture and everyday interactions within society. A hyper intelligent script showcases not characters, but brilliant representations of real people, people we know and pass in the street every day, people not unlike us. People who at first seem to be lost causes in the war against racism (witnessed in Matt Dillon's harried beat cop and Sandra Bulluck's spoiled District Attorney's wife) can often become the most unlikely solutions to the problem, while people who ride in on their high horse (witnessed in Ryan Phillipe's noble young police officer) can turn against the tide in the blink of an eye. No one is immune to it no matter how hard they try to rise above it (witnessed in Don Cheadle's quietly tragic detective).

In the end, everyone is flawed, the racism is inescapable, and the audience feels a twinge of sympathy for just about everyone. Perhaps that is what Haggis is hinting at to be our answer. Showing empathy and being able to relate even on the most remote level to every human being out there is the first step to that true brotherhood of man. Because the film offers no real solution, the discussion and discourse it creates in the minds of the viewers is the first step in solving society's ills. We can't tackle everything at once, but we can open a dialogue, and hopefully, one person conversing with another will be the first step to our salvation. It takes a bold film to raise such questions, and an even greater one to compel an audience to talk about the potential answers, and that is exactly what "Crash" accomplishes.
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Colluded & Contrived Collisions...
Xstal17 September 2020
It's a shame that in order to present the diversity of racism and prejudice, the writer and director had to conjure up such a contrived set of chained circumstances, scenarios and aggregations. For the most part the presentation flows seamlessly through the lives of LA residents as incidents follow incidents over the course of twenty four hours or so, but it soon dawns on you that it's as manufactured as the cheapest plastic plaything and done so just to elicit what can only be described as a faux reaction to the events - as a result the impact is diluted and devalued.

Sadly, it's the constant stream of actual events and newsfeeds, from all over the world but perhaps more shocking in the so called developed world, that remind us how the road to a truly fair, free and open society is still as out of reach to some as it's ever been - on that we should all be able to agree.
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Shockingly Overrated
skopera13 June 2005
I can't believe all the reviews I'm reading. And not just on IMDb but in the printed press too. People seem to love this movie, and I don't understand.

I felt it was a solid movie with excellent music and cinematography. Yet, if that was all that mattered, Phantom Menace would be an Oscar winner.

It seemed to me that there were very few original ideas in the script. The racial plot lines were done better in "Grand Canyon", "Do the Right Thing" and "Boyz n the Hood".

If you haven't seen any of the above movies, perhaps "Crash" will open up your eyes to the depths of the racial divide in this country. Otherwise, you're better off with something a little more subtle and original.
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a realistic, gritty, no-nonsense look at the way life is for so many....
acclar23 April 2005
After seeing this movie, I was able to really understand what "Six Degrees of Separation" means. There is a thread that weaves its way through the landscape of life connecting, influencing, and defining all. This movie is certainly thought-provoking, one cannot watch it without feeling either privileged to have become part of the fabric, or like a fly on the wall - seeing, yet unable to influence or guide. There is almost a sense of frustration at ones inability to be no more than an observer in this movie since it compels you to want to shout in warning, gasp in shock, cry in sorrow, and hold in comfort. "Crash" is definitely not a movie to use as a venue to escape life for a couple of hours, but it is a movie that certainly makes you take a second and third look at who you are within yourself. The actors are surprising not only for their depth of performance, but also because they do not play characters you think you know. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes drama, action, comedic relief, or just an appreciation for a well-thought out movie.
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really everyone?
kdavidbushnell9 July 2009
sucked sucked sucked sucked it's not as powerful and moving as everyone says. Actually it wasn't at all. The movie tries to pull of a Alejandro González Iñárritu style film but just completely fails. As a matter of fact it's a blatant rip off of Alejandro González Iñárritu that completely sucks. It won Oscars? For what, mediocre dialogue and a simple story that isn't moving. Mass majority of people think this Hollywood scam is good for what? It barely/doesn't even connect the stories. It's pretty boring in most parts and the moral is weak. I wasted my time and thoughts on this. The acting is not that good, besides lorenz tate. Whatever this movie just sucked. A bad attempt at trying to be deep and artistic. Far overrated and not worth watching unless you like bs. Listen to the negative reviews because those people must like good movies.
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Lives in change
mmcneil00725 April 2005
The film does not allow any character to fall into a stereotype despite the initial appearances. Everyone is redeeming, in a greater or lessor degree, in their own world, despite their frailties and prejudices. The writing is crisp and no easy turns are taken. The film has unexpected twists but none of them are contrived. Each character is developed just enough for us to develop our opinions of them and then things change. Those of us familiar with LA will recognize the icons of the city and the mix of cultures. Each character has enough prejudice or hate in his/her repertoire of life to demonstrate we had better not be too quick to judge without exploring what might in us be similar to the characters' flaws. A must see just for the pacing and script. Malcolm
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Never confuse earnest with honest
Adrian_Atkins19 October 2007
Art is honest. The antithesis of art is earnestness.

This film is like a man who beats his wife pleading for her to not leave him. It is full of earnestness, but is not necessarily honest.

This film is pleading: please like me! Please think I'm brilliant! Please give me an Oscar! I promise to use every cliché, every stereotype, every hackneyed plot device and I will make sure that you get the message loud and clear.

Crash is manipulative, didactic trite. It is an insult to the art of cinema. The worst part about it is that it pretends to be brilliant, and for the most part gets away with it - it fooled a lot of people.

Watch it closely. Study it. It is a textbook example of how not to make a film.
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A Rusty Sledgehammer.
MovieAddict201616 March 2006
Alas, here is a film mired by its excesses; one that comes so curiously close to moments of cinematic brilliance that all but embody the captivating possibilities of film-making, before disappointingly devolving backwards into a predictable, hammy and unbelievable preaching session.

Predictable because it follows standards – and doesn't dare to take enough risks. Hammy because it is stiff, simple and suspiciously empty. Unbelievable because a woman is saved from an exploding car on a jam-packed LA freeway and booked into a hospital and the cop who saved her goes back to work minutes afterward and, apparently, her husband is never even notified of her accident (and, if he had been, wouldn't he have been concerned with her welfare and perhaps at least left work early to attend to her?). Later that day he is involved in a high-speed chase; the conclusion of this incident wants to impress us with its irony and depth, but the problem is that there is none. Irony is not irony when it is commanded to be so; these characters do not realistically bounce off each other as they do in Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" or Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" – Paul Haggis' screenplay is contrived, and every time their paths cross, it isn't so much because they could cross (as in "Pulp Fiction") – it is because they must cross ways to service the furthering of the plot. It was irony in "Fiction" that the watch given to Butch was his father's saving grace and alternatively the cause of his own near-death. When the cop who sexually probed the woman ends up being her savior in "Crash," it isn't irony. It's a gimmick.

The film wants to challenge us, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally – it wants to be on the edge – and it even thinks it is challenging – but in all actuality, it's very light, and the Academy's choice of awarding it Best Picture substantiates this. "Crash" plays it safe, too often and frustratingly so. It wants to force us into second-guessing our mentality – but this only makes it feel heavy-handed and manipulative. It proposes that people today (especially in areas such as Los Angeles) are racist – and extends this theory by proving their apparent racism through actions and dialogue – but this only works as a tool for awareness, not resolution. It worked with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" – it opened doors for new racial policies – but that was at a time when people's eyes needed to be open. It is now the twenty-first century, and bigots and racists know who they are and embrace this fact. We don't need a warning, anymore – we need a solution, and "Crash" provides no solid answers.

But it does have its moments – few and far between – that are stunning. (The rescue sequence, for example.) Matt Dillon gives a stellar performance, rich with depth and brimming with angst and hatred. Don Cheadle, in a similarly small role (from a cast of seemingly dozens), manages to convey exactly what the film needs in the form of a very human (and therefore very flawed) man from a shaky background who is struggling to maintain his image whilst dealing with a turbulent family situation – all of which comes to a breathtaking finale that doubles back on itself to the very beginning of the film.

Yet, for a movie with the gall to proclaim it is firmly rooted in humanity and wants to expose our inherent flaws, and wants to tell us we "don't know" who we really are, it does little to connect with its audience – even on the most basic level. The movie is simply too silly to take seriously. There are the aforementioned moments that actually start to amount to something, and begin to captivate – but are unfortunately dragged to a halting stop whenever Haggis tries to nail the point with a sledgehammer. An example of this: Everyone is constantly referring to racism in the script; one character is a conspiracy nut that thinks windows are put on buses to showcase the blacks "too poor" to afford anything other than public transportation. One character to the next is having an argument dealing with racial issues – a black car thief claiming all whites are racist; a white woman ranting about blacks and Latinos; a light-skinned black woman calling her husband racial epithets; it's just one after the next, over and over; Haggis didn't need to do this. We didn't need to have the woman's feelings explained to us, explicitly, after she is unjustly probed by the bigoted police officer. Her face says it all – it elicits fear, pain, hatred, and ultimately, deep upset over her husband's fragility and lack of manhood; the actions (or lack thereof) fulfilled by a man so utterly crippled by a fear of his own ethnicity that he denies himself the most basic human rights; peer respect at the cost of humility and debasement.

A better director would have stopped here. The face says it all. We don't need the rusty sledgehammer to drive the point in. Sometimes, all we need is the nail, and we can carry out the rest on our own.

Note: I give this film seven stars out of ten because some of its better moments outweigh the bad. I reserve giving it a higher rating due to the reasons above, but I do want to make it clear that some parts of the film were very good, and it's a real pity that Haggis was so inconsistent with the movie and couldn't have extended the better parts into a perfect whole.
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spoon-fed drama
omarramonmuniz17 October 2007
Crash is not nearly as good as everyone has hyped it up to be and here's why: The film is filled with drama and it's mostly forced. What I mean is, the film abandons logic so we conveniently find characters facing the most dramatic, heart-wrenching scenarios imaginable. Of course, this ignites emotion out of the audience, but the drama is spoon-fed and the reason is because it doesn't hold true to story and, in some cases, character. In simpler terms, once you discover the film's dramatic pattern, the characters and story mostly feel fake. And consequently, you may realize that what you're watching isn't a true and real story, but an obvious attempt by the filmmakers to bury the audience in drama so they have no choice but to shed a tear. In addition, most of the movie feels like a music video. These filmmakers feel like the only way they can successfully weave together this large cast of characters without confusing the audience is by adding music to most of the film. Camera movements, acting and editing are all dictated by the music. That's when you know you're watching a music video. Plus, the music is not very good. The soundtrack makes you want lay inside an empty bathtub and down a bottle of aspirin tablets. All in all, the movie is full of silly coincidences that audiences mistake for good screen writing. It's a film that banks on America's vulnerability to films on racism. However, with all that said, I don't want to come across as Mr. Negativity. Here are some good qualities about the film that get lost in its desperate attempts to spoon-feed its audience: Performances by Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, and Terence Howard; their characters were the best written of all in the film and, despite having their characters flung into unrealistic situations, they managed to turn in believable performances. Also, keep an eye out for the relationship between Bullock's character and her housekeeper. This portion of the film tends to be overlooked because it's the least tear- jerking, but it may be the best presented. And, despite the films flaws, it attempts an important and somewhat original message. That's more than I can say for most modern-day Hollywood films.
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Worst movie of the year. Please, do not waste your time.
rh2positivo16 July 2005
Crash is supposed to be a film about racism in Los Angeles. But in fact, it's just a bunch of coincidences between several characters that connect each other during one day in one of the biggest cities of the world. Who the hell is going to believe that? There are unrealistic situations, one after the other. On the other hand, this film pretends to show racism between Asians, Iranians, Latinos, Blacks, and Whites. But the big error relies on a pre-establish racism coming from the writer. Mainly because the White characters in this movie are usually portrait as people with a better social-economical status than the rest of the other races. Iranians are poor, just like the Asians. And Latinos, as always, are portrait as Housekeepers, police officers, or with a very low profile job like a locksmith. Jesus!!! Don't you guys think it's about time to change these stereotypes? Same with blacks, portrait as gang members, with the exception of a Black TV Director, who was the only fresh character for me. This movie sucks so hard, that makes me so disappointed about the kind of cinema coming out from Hollywood these days. Always with stereotype characters. No realism whatsoever. Nothing to identify with. It's simply a big waste because this could have been a great opportunity to show Latinos, Koreans, Iranians, and blacks, from a different perspective.
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Crash is a Wreck
st-shot25 November 2007
In Crash, Director Paul Haggis goes Altmanesque with this garbled attempt to discuss bigotry in contemporary LA. Overall it lacks Altman's energy and offers up gross cliché characters instead of quirky originals. Crash begins to go into its spin right after Detective Weathers (Don Cheadle) sums up the "City of Angels" populace in the first line of the film. "In LA nobody touches you. We're all behind glass and metal. Sometimes I think we crash into each other just so we can feel something." We are then introduced to a full cast of impatient, ill tempered Angelinos of all stripe and persuasion connected in some way to make life miserable for each other. There's the bigoted cop, the successful "Uncle Tom" black, the Asian trafficking in human cargo, the hard working Latino, the misunderstood Persian and gang banger of principle. It's LA as a microcosm of the world, Hollywood style.

The enemy is ourselves seems to be the message as Crash's one dimensional characters snarl at each other from start to finish with occasional moments of insight and exposed vulnerability as they spend scene after scene reciting well worn bigoted archaisms that have been around for decades. When Haggis runs out of these he goes into music video mode with a solemn track playing over a montage of Crash's hapless citizens looking dutifully glum.

Serious as it attempts to be Crash is a rather vapid message picture with a couple of incendiary scenes connected by preposterous coincidence that patronizes its token cast when its not busy spitting stilted racist venom. It's a five car pile-up.
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Disguised Hollywood Crap
mltubio1 April 2006
This movie is entertaining, if you want to relax on a Sunday afternoon and stop thinking about work and important stuff, watching this film would be a good option.

However, it is a bad film, if you are looking for something truly interesting that you will remember in 10 years from now, don't even consider watching it.

The acting is terrible, the plot is almost a joke, this film is an insult to the intellect because of the way the public is fooled into believing that "this film is different" but it actually isn't.

What an overrated film. So many people liked it so much, I wonder what that says about our global society.
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Hard To Swallow
SilkTork8 November 2005
It's good emotional stuff at the time, but the very real weaknesses nag at you as soon as the film ends. It's a real fader. After a month you've forgotten all about it.

Once there's some distance from the emotion, I have to say that it sucks. Issues are isolated and blown out of proportion just to give an immediate emotional intensity. There is a lack of reality, intelligence, craft and creativity about the whole thing. And I found the racist, sex abusing cop's back story of being a dutiful son and then being a dramatic hero somewhat hard to swallow - after the event. Yeah, sure, at the time it felt like there was some significance there, but on reflection you see that it was just a dramatic scene in a Hollywood movie. And any suggestion that even a racist can also be nice to his mom is not worth making, except by racists to excuse and justify racist behaviour.

The confusions you feel at the time are the result of some blunt emotional exploitation by the movie makers. It's like a series of big expensive, well made adverts strung together, some saying vote conservative and some saying vote liberal. At the time the adverts seem to be saying something. But by the next day real issues and real life take over and you return to reality.
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not much here is really of any use to anyone.
Henry J Sosenite2 June 2007
I heard so many great things about Crash. It was one of the best reviewed of the year. actually, I hadn't heard anything bad about it at all. Everyone I talked to loved it. This turned out to be a big mistake on "everyone's" part. (I hadn't dug deep enough yet to realize that were plenty of people out there besides "everyone" who didn't like it. but that's besides the point of my introduction.)

I think the main problem I had with Crash was that it just wasn't believable, at all. A serious dramatic movie isn't worth crap if it isn't believable. If people really acted like they do in this film, LA would be in a state of war. I know there was the whole Rodney King thing in LA, but that got a LOT of attention. The events in Crash depict racism on a scale ridiculously close to that of the Rodney King incident. I'm never convinced at any point in the film that the events depicted really could happen. In fact, I was just in Los Angeles, and people of various ethnicities seemed to get along with each other just fine. sure, there's racism out there, but Crash is about as accurate on racism as Rambo is on war.

All the dialogue is pretty horrible, too. Totally unconvincing. I couldn't imagine a single character being an actual person in real life. Crash had too many of those oh-so-dramatic scenes where every line is something flowery and deep, and if you actually heard some one say it in real life you would laugh your head off. (Examples- the scene with the gun with blanks, and with Don Cheadle and his mom.) Some scenes were actually moving, like the car wreck, as hard to believe as it was. but these scenes were overshadowed by all the bad scenes.

In the first half of the movie, almost every character was portrayed as a stereotype. I think this was done on purpose... I don't know if the point of that was for them to overcome the stereotypes. Even if they do overcome them, you have an ugly, offensive, and extremely weak first half of the movie.

I didn't like the pretentious and over-used idea of having all the stories interweave. It's been done a lot, but it's never been done this bad. In other movies, the fact that there are coincidences is used to make a point of some sort, but not in Crash. I think this is the main weakness of Crash. they went to all this trouble to put a bunch of chance meetings into this film, and what did it mean that these insane coincidences happened? Nothing. The end.

There's a lot to like under the surface of Crash... sure, lots of characters overcoming their inner demons, and fun stuff like that. but almost nothing on the surface to like. And actually, I didn't really feel as if Crash had anything to say. (One of the impressions I had gotten from other people before I had seen it was that it had a lot to say.) What was the point? Did it really show us anything we don't already know? Was it trying to show us how harmful racism is? Wow, racism is harmful... Who knew. This film certainly didn't change any of my views. Honestly, I can't believe it has "changed people's lives"- give me a break. In order for it to change your life, I think you would have to knowingly be a racist before you saw it, and seeing it made you change your ways.

Despite all of these problems I had with Crash, I did find some good qualities in it. The music was good. I like Mark Isham. I had high hopes when the movie first started, because the credits had me mesmerized. The music really enhanced certain scenes of the film, too. And, I'll admit that a couple of scenes were moving, although perhaps not genuinely. There was even some pretty strong acting. Ludicrous and Don Cheadle were brilliant. Unfortunately, Crash was still a huge pile of crap. (hah, that's fun to say.) I'd find any John Woo movie to be more believable.
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Wildy over-rated, contrived, lots of noise
denny170025 October 2006
There were a few exciting, tense vignettes between the characters of "Crash" but there were also some tendentious, heavy, hackneyed things that really stood out: Don Cheadle's voice-over, ostensibly deep (the voice of conscience in the film), Sandra Bullock's hugging her maid towards the end of the film and confessing to her that she (the maid) was actually her best friend, the really quite sappy Latino whose gets killed when trying to save her father (the "red-cloak" piece of malarkey), the condescending treatment of Asians (especially the atrociously accented Korean woman at the beginning), the long sequence involving Brendan Fraser in the courtroom (it didn't seem relevant and was slow, the Terrence Howard/Thandie Newton confrontation (a lot of sparks but not really that compelling except for the melodrama), and so on. That the Matt Dillon turns to the Ryan Phillipe character when they break-up as a police team, "You think you know who you are but you don't have any idea, et. al." is gratuitous. Like so many lines in this film, it comes out of nowhere.

Not subtle, not a work of art, but plenty of adrenaline and action around a hot-button issue. Which is probably why less sophisticated, younger movie-goers (I just can hear them saying "Really cool, man, it'so SO-O deep") seem to have gone for this film. Most critics apart from Ebert and a few others were very lukewarm, if not downright very critical about this film. Believe me, it doesn't hold a candle and is definitely not in the same category as "La Strada," "Gosford Park,"...or last year's exceptional "Brokeback Mountain." Three much better films with superior screenplays/plot-lines, and character development are "L.A. Confidential," "Mullholland Drive," and "Chinatown."

Dialogue clichés, lots of high-speed car chases, clichéd-characters, lots of movie-stars doing uncharacteristically small turns, and Hollywood's favorite liberal subject matter (racism) are a recipe for Hollywood acclaim and middlebrow American audience approval. This film made only about 33% of its receipts from outside the U.S., a pretty weak showing. "Brokeback Mountain"'s receipts overseas accounted for more than its domestic grosses.

That it won the Oscar is NOT that surprising when such middling fare as "Beautiful Mind" (pure schlock except for Russell Crowe's acting). "Gladiator," "Braveheart," etc. won.

(This is definitely the last time I'll even pay attention to the Oscars).

At "Crash" at least breaks the stereotype that all African-Americans are an unfairly persecuted, noble minority.
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Bad, bad, bad...
joseantoniourena22 August 2006
This film is one of the most laughable attempts to make something similar to a movie I have ever watched. False, fake, and full of stereotypes. This film may have been relevant in 1992, but now it looks and feels really dated. I felt I had seen this film before. This subject has been dealt with in a much more genuine way by other directors. The fact that this film won the best film Oscar this year shows that there really is something wrong with the way the Academy votes. The other nominated films deserved the Oscar for many reasons. When I watched Crash I could not believe it had been chosen. Many parts of it I found exaggerated, not believable, and full of clichés.

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Spoon feeding at it's Hollywood best
djm-wv21 July 2006
This movie is certainly not much of a challenge for anyone who would rather think than be spoon fed. Such an improbable series of events has not occurred since the last time the circus came to town. Some good acting but not redeemed by the contrived and full of holes script. It's hard to fathom just how this ho-hum movie beat out so many good candidates for Best Picture. This award by the Academy will go down as one of its most misdirected. This movie gathering praise reminds me of why I've just about stopped going to see Hollywood films. They pander far too much for my taste. The oh so obvious message of this film is also way out of date.
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Crash...your head into a wall after seeing this. You'll feel better.
alias_fate23 March 2006
Wow...what a load of...

My husband, to my shame, purchased the DVD based on the hype and all the Oscar hoopla. I read a few reviews before hand, and was wary. Still, I really wanted to like this movie. As I watched it, it became really hard to do.

I tried on a cinematic, technical level, looking for great camera work, settings, lighting...nope, nothing impressed me. I tried to like it for its proposed "edgy" dialog, and its "daring", "noble", "eye-opening" coverage of racism. None of that came across in the movie. It was written almost from the perspective of someone who hasn't experienced tense situations, let alone racism.

Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, and Terrance Howard did the best they could with their roles. However, ANYONE could have played any of the characters, and it would have been the same movie.

The music was forgettable. The story is mostly an urban folk tale, but there is no urban-styled music. The music is too clean.

Overall, the movie was mostly a "C" movie, not at all worthy of the awards it received. There is maybe only one truly intense scene...but it is really a cliché in disguise. Just like the rest of the film.

If you have to, absolutely have to watch this, rent it. Or wait for Crash: The Musical.

As an aside: The jacket of the DVD has a picture of Jennifer Esposito on the back...SHE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY. Her character was non-existent, accept for seeing her under Don Cheadle for two seconds. If they were going to put a screen shot of Esposito on the DVD jacket, they could have mentioned Sandra Bullock's collagen bloated upper lip in the end credit thank-you's, since both Esposito and the lip served the same purpose, whatever purpose that was.
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Such A Fine Line Between Oscar and Lifetime Channel Movie...
BobM-0873119 March 2006
While this film was well done, I am stunned at both the average voter rating on IMDb and it earning the Best Film for 2005. This is a 'tidy' account of racial conditions in the USA, but no more cutting edge than the content found in any 'All In The Family' sitcom from the 70s. There is little character development, with each being one-dimensional regarding their personal discriminations. If this film is supposed to deliver a message, it was lost in my viewing. It appeared that every character's racial subjectivity was influenced and primarily based on the most recent event with that race. In my opinion, racial conditions have improved and evolved in our country further than this film suggests. Personal discriminations in the film are not subtle and are stereotypical to a fault. It was void of subtleties and wit that truly represent an individual's approach and reaction in real life. Comparing this to the other nominees this year, I wonder what criteria the voters based their vote upon to select Crash as the winner. This would be a 'surf-through' movie if you passed over it on the Lifetime Channel (only A-list cameo appearances save it from this deserved placement). This is a 'one-watch' movie and will likely date itself quickly. I am sure the idea for the film came out of a graduate student's thesis and would work well in stage form with an ethnic cross-section of serious undergraduate drama majors.
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