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'Collateral' kicks action movie ass

Photo courtesy of Dreamworks studios
Vincent (TOM CRUISE), a contract killer, hunts down five key witnesses in one night for the mob in Dream Works and Paramount pictures' thriller "Collateral."
By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, August 9, 2004
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Cruise, Foxx deliver great acting in Mann's 'Collateral'

"Collateral" is one of the best movies of the summer. This summer there has been the usual garbage ("I, Robot" and "White Chicks") the unexpected greats ("Napoleon Dynamite," "Shrek 2" and "Spiderman 2") and the disappointing ("The Village"). So, although the competition for summer greats is fierce, "Collateral" holds its own and proves to be smart, entertaining and action-packed.

The basic premise for the film is that Vincent (Tom Cruise) steps into Max's (Jamie Foxx) cab and pays him 600 dollars to drive him to five stops and then return him to the airport at the end of the night. Max agrees, but after the first stop realizes that Vincent is a hit man. And as we all know, the man with the gun controls the situation. Accordingly, Max's night descends into chaos as Vincent does his job.

Director Michael Mann made four important decisions when setting out to make this film. First, he cast Tom Cruise as Vincent, the silver fox antagonist. Cruise did a superb job of being a complete creep, void of any sign of emotional maturity. Vincent, however, is not the usual hit man type. He is somehow likeable, which is both uncomfortable for the audience and an indication of Cruise's talent.


4 out of 5 stars


Rated: R

120 min.

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Mann's second major decision was casting Jamie Foxx as the cab-driving protagonist Max. Throughout the film, the audience is rooting for Max completely. He reacts to his situations exactly as anyone else would. This universality creates a bond with the audience. Kudos to Foxx for doing such a convincing job.

Third, he cast Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie, the character you want to see more of in the film. For the 20 or 30 minutes she is in the film, she is superb. There are no small parts, only small actors, right?

And finally, Mann shot "Collateral" in Los Angeles, and featured its scenery almost as if it was another main character of the film. The aerial shots coupled with the car-mounted cameras create a strong atmosphere for the film. And because the movie takes place at night, you can't see the intense smog that normally surrounds the city, thus making it much more beautiful than how it is usually portrayed.

"Collateral" is an extremely intense movie. At one point, I realized that my hands were clenched into fists and I was completely immersed in what was going on. I found myself mouthing "holy shit" a few times. During the climax of the film, the lady next to me screamed, which is a good indication that Michael Mann accomplished his goal.

This movie isn't scary, per se, but it is one of those movies that accelerates quickly and then doesn't stop until it's over. It is certainly more satisfying to watch than any other action movie this summer.

Overall this movie exceeds expectations. Tom Cruise is a sexy villain, Jamie Foxx is a tortured and reluctant hero and the cinematography is unbelievably beautiful. Go see it. Seriously.

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