- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
rom the minute that the monochrome version of the Paramount logo flashes on the screen, it becomes clear that the audience is in for something a little darker than the average summer blockbuster. Directed by master of suspense Michael Mann (“Heat,” “The Insider”), “Collateral” is a gritty crime thriller with a classic good vs. evil showdown at its core. Featuring two stellar performances from Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx and a tight script, this might not be the director’s most accessible movie to date, but it’s certainly one of his best.
Foxx stars as Max, an obsessively meticulous cab driver with dreams of owning his own limo service. He's slowly saving up for the day when he can say goodbye to those long, lonely shifts and be his own boss – a goal that becomes that much more attainable when Vincent (Cruise) steps into his taxi with a proposition: usher him around town for the night and he'll give Max $700 for his services. But after his first stop ends with a dead man crashing down onto his cab, Max realizes that the laid-back businessman is actually a hitman. Forced to escort him to his remaining stops, Max watches as Vincent hunts his victims through the lighted streets and filthy alleys of L.A., keeping one eye on the nervous driver and the other on his next target.
Tom Cruise is at the top of his game as the film’s charmingly sinister villain, a cool and composed killer who’s more concerned with getting the job done than being caught in the act. Although many have written him off as a serious actor, Cruise proves that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Nevertheless, it’s Jamie Foxx who’s the real surprise in his strongest performance yet. Building off his critically acclaimed turn as a death row inmate in “Redemption,” Foxx continues to mature with each new role, demonstrating the kind of natural talent that will likely net him an Academy Award in the near future.
For a movie that takes place almost exclusively at night, "Collateral" also delivers some strikingly beautiful imagery. Mann captures long, stunning shots of Max’s cab as it glides through the barely-lit city, his two stars engaged in quick-witted banter and streaks of sudden violence as the story slowly builds to its thrilling climax. It's quite the achievement considering it was shot on video, because while certain aspects of that format (like grain and contrast) might normally lend to the argument as to why it's inferior to film, Mann uses them here to great effect. “Collateral” steers clear of the usual overblown action extravaganza until its mildly disappointing conclusion, but a few bumps in the road won’t ruin this dark and suspenseful ride that is well worth the fare.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of “Collateral” comes packaged with all of the same bonus material from the original two-disc DVD. There’s an insightful commentary by director Michael Mann where he discusses shooting with HD cameras, a decent making-of featurette, and two more featurettes about location shooting and visual FX. Also included is a deleted scene, footage of Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx rehearsing, and two trailers.