Collateral (2004)

L.A. is just a really shitty place now that I look at it.

Max (Jamie Foxx) is a failed comedy writer living in Los Angeles who makes a living as a cab driver. One very tumultuous day, he figures out that the fare Vincent (Tom Cruise) he’s been driving around all day is a contract killer, committing a series of hits. Now, it’s up to him to somehow stop the killer from executing the last witness… as well as himself.

The one thing I like the most about Michael Mann is that his stories may not be the best on paper, but when their played out, they are simply riveting. Heat, a film where cop chases bad guy, seen it done a million times, however, it’s considered his best work. For me, this is his best.

The film starts off really nice and slow, with a couple of nice little talking pieces, but then as soon Vincent gets in the car, it’s zooooooooom… thriller here we goooooo!!! Let me just say that this film does keep you on the edge of your seat. Your watching as these two dudes go from one place to another, killing people, and get stuck in the stickiest situations, but somehow end up getting away.

The way Michael Mann films everything is just brilliant here. He shows L.A. at night, at makes it beautiful, then gritty, and the beautiful again. The cinematography is rich in design because Mann is constantly switching cameras. Some scenes he will use a HD camera to get that real look of these dudes running through the streets, then you got you digital camera for the real real look, and then he uses 35mm for one scene that will just totally knock your socks off. Mann shows L.A. in a way that makes it one of the most beautiful places to be, despite the violent under-belly.

Between all the gun shooting, running, stealing, etc. There are still many moments of talking, and these people aren’t just talking non-sense that you would hear in your typical action thriller, these people are giving some honest insight into life and death, and how will your legacy be viewed as, once you are dead. It was surprising how much was actually said, and meant something in this film.

I had a few problems with this film, and I can see others did too. There just so happened to be too many coincidences in this film. I can’t give away too much, but at the end, it kind of makes you think, OK, why in the hell is he looking for this one person, out of the 2.5 million people in L.A. Also, there is another scene that will have you basically going, OK, bullshit. Sorry about being discrete, but once you see these scenes, then you’ll notice what I’m talking about.

Tom Cruise, goes against type playing Vincent, the bad guy, and makes one of the best career choices of his life. He is just brilliant here. When you first get to meet him, you can tell he’s a big charmer, a nice smooth-talker, and then you get to see him in action. You are just totally mesmerized by this dude. He’s great at what he does, and that just adds on an extra level of creepiness for his character that the film strives so much for. Jamie Foxx is even better, playing a dude that just wants nothing but to get out of this sticky situation, but there is just one scene where you see him totally change. It’s a great scene cause the whole time we’re rooting for him, and then we see him actually turn the other cheek, we are more ready than ever. The supporting cast is also good in here too. Filled with stars such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, and a touching scene with Barry Shabaka Henley.

Consensus: Collateral may have unrealistic things in its story by the end, however Mann directs this film with inspiration, giving off great performances from the cast, and a suspenseful story, that have could been done wrong so many other ways.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!


  1. “The one thing I like the most about Michael Mann is that his stories may not be the best on paper, but when their played out, they are simply riveting.” Absolutely!!! Even though Mann mostly makes genre pictures, its always fun to sit through them.

    Though I wouldn’t give it as high a rating as you’ve given, Collateral does have a lot of positives to it. Its compelling to watch, is extremely fast paced, denotes time towards character development, has a strong storyline, to name a few. And, I agree with you in that this might be one of the best performances of Tom Cruise, along with perhaps Magnolia.

    The overtly typical & cliched climax, esp. those chase sequences and attempts at mainstream suspense, eroded some of the good work, for me i.e.. Anyway, this is one of those movies I wouldn’t mind rewatching maybe a few years hence.

    • It’s so fun, compelling, and well-thought out, that I just had one of the best times, that I didn’t think I would have with a Mann film.

  2. Not one making many trips off my shelves but one that is gripping and so well done (even if there are too many coincidences as you mention).

    This is one that if it’s on TV I can watch the whole thing from what ever point its at. Bardem was awesome, Jason Statham showed up surprisingly and disappeared just as sudden and my only qualm was that I didn’t buy Ruffalo as a hard edged cop. Then again could we buy Cruise as a cold as ice hitman?:P

  3. I’m glad you took the time to talk about the cinematography in this film which is completely masterful. I agree this is what Michael Mann does best.

  4. dont remember Foxx playing a failed comedy writer – thought he was waiting to set up his own limo firm… oh well
    great film though, nine a fair mark. i would give it ten if it wasnt for the really crappy ending
    the first 20 minutes of this are just great – Foxx and Jada Pinkett talking in a cab, so natural

  5. Hey Dan…seems like our reviews are paralleling these days. See my thoughts on Collateral ->

    I can’t agree with you that Collateral is better than Heat, a film I’ve seen a dozen plus times and find it engaging, cinematic and filled with great performances from an all-star cast. There are many many memorable scenes, the diner scene between Di Nero and Pacino pretty close to the top. What I liked about Collateral the most was the way Mann used every opportunity to keep what might otherwise seem a difficult job – namely conducting a majority of the movie in a taxi cab – moving and interesting.

    I hope you can drop by and check out my review.


  6. “The film starts off really nice and slow, with a couple of nice little talking pieces, but then as soon Vincent gets in the car, it’s zooooooooom… thriller here we goooooo!!!”

    Haha. I love how you mix simplicity and energy in your reviews. It’s so much more fun than reading pretentious ones that are very long but ultimately saying nothing.

    I agree with you on this one. I think Cruise should star in more movies like this–the ones that challenge his usual image as an iconic action star.

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