Collateral
3/4
poster

Details & Information from IMDB

Genre Crime
Year 2004
Duration 120 min
Rating 7.8 out of 10
Description: "It started like any other night"

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 LA. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.
Comments: Collateral is a masterpiece of American cinema. Jamie Foxx is Max, a Los Angeles cab driver with dreams of his own limo company, "Island Limo". After twelve years on the job he has become quite gifted at discerning the most intimate details of his passengers' lives... just a glance at their clothes, and he knows.

His worldly insight manages to tear down the defenses of one of his passengers, a State Attorney played by Jada Pinkett Smith, who graces him with her phone number. Max hasn't even begun to revel in the pleasure of possessing the beautiful attorney's digits when he gets his next passenger, Tom Cruise as Vincent, a slick hit-man in town for a night of killing.

When a body drops out of a fourth story window and onto Max's cab, he becomes an unwilling partner on Vincent's murder spree. Director Michael Mann (The Insider, Ali) does a masterful job manipulating texture and tone throughout the movie, taking us to settings as diverse as a junkie's apartment, a penthouse, a hospital room, and a smoky jazz club, all the while making the city of angels a central character in the story.

The soundtrack is also excellent, with a mixture of popular music and ambient tracks perfectly-timed and synced to the story... tribal drumbeats during the chase scenes, haunting rock ballads at pivotal moments, and one track that reminded this viewer of the scene at the other end of Tom Cruise's career, when he drives his father's Porsche out of the garage in "Risky Business" to the accompaniment of a thumping synth track. A bizarre side-note, I know.

As the movie builds to a climax, the police are hunting for Max, believing he is the one on a killing spree, and Vincent stalks his final victim in a blacked-out high-rise office to a backdrop of the brilliant LA skyline, reflected in multiplicity by the office's dozens of glass cubicles.

Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, and Jada Pinkett Smith all rise to the occasion in Collateral, and together they transcend their previous appearances on film. Mark Ruffalo gives a good performance as the cop who knows everything is not what it seems.

There are a few minor plot points which didn't sufficiently suspend my disbelief (like when Max agrees to take Vincent the vicious hit-man to see his Mother in the hospital), but overall this is a fantastic movie.

Troy Dayton