“Collateral” is the rare action film that actually spends the time to develop its characters. Although it falters slightly at the end, the film is still one of the best of the Summer. “Collateral” begins with a kind and intelligent cabbie named Max (Jamie Foxx) who has just picked up a pretty, stressed-out federal prosecutor named Annie (Jada Pinkett). They like each other and she ends up giving him her card. Max’s next passenger is a hit man named Vincent (Tom Cruise) who wears a sharp looking tailored silver suit. After finding out that Max is an efficient, knowledgeable driver, he decides to hire him for his appointed nightly rounds. Complications arise when a body flies out a window and lands on the roof of Max’s cab. Vincent then forces Max against his will to drive him to the rest of his jobs. Meanwhile, a gritty cop named Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is following the trail of bodies trying to keep up with the speedy and skilled Vincent. Fanning discovers that Vincent has probably used cabdrivers before to make his sprees look like murder-suicides. This is the only logical reason why Vincent keep Max around, using him and the cab to cover his identity rather than a more recognizable rental car. Vincent slowly begins to grow attached to Max as Max comes out of his shell and faces certain realities about himself and his aspirations. When Vincent coaches Max through telling off his boss, you can tell that both characters are enjoying it more than they probably should considering the circumstances. There is also a great scene when Vincent charms Max’s elderly mother. Mann allows dialogue into the kind of movie that many directors now approach as mindless action. The action scenes are much more effective when they happen to convincing individuals, instead of poorly developed caricatures. It helps that both Foxx and Cruise are excellent in their respective roles. Foxx, a graduate of the sketch comedy show “In Living Color,” first made significant dramatic waves as the flashy Willie Beamon in “Any Given Sunday.” With “Collateral” Foxx announces his arrival as a serious actor. Foxx is able to portray a large number of emotions brilliantly. He is able to capture bored indifference, blood-chilling fear, a burning desire to outsmart Vincent and finally an ability to rise up and take control of the situation. He even manages to be funny at times. Cruise makes Vincent scarily convincing. He’s an intensely physical performer, one whose athleticism helps express the inner workings of his characters. As Vincent, he calmly sites and executes his targets while chaos erupts around him. As good as he is, Cruise is essentially playing the same kind of person he always does: a sharp, focused, efficient, driven, well dressed, articulate man. If he were to effectively play an underachieving-slacker, with a southern accent and a weight problem, that would be much more impressive to me. Another unique detail is that “Collateral” was shot mostly in high-def video rather than film, because Mann preferred it for nighttime scenes. It gives things a more gritty, realistic feel. The biggest flaw seems to be the very end of the film that starts to feel like a hundred other thrillers and turns into a standard action finale. It’s not a bad climax, it’s just not nearly as intriguing or as well written as the rest of the film. But for the most part, there are no unrealistic leaps of fantasy by Max and no elaborate villain gimmicks from Vincent. The ending and other few contrivances are forgivable under Mann’s intense direction. Like “The Bourne Supremacy,” this is another solid and intelligent action film that shouldn’t be missed.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.
Movie Review: Pick up the Collateral Damage
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May 21, 2013 3:16 pm / no comments