Reviewed by: Josh Morrall


It began like any other night. I was at the multiplex, sitting in a surprisingly comfortable seat, ready for the picture to begin. The new Michael Mann film. I was excited, sure, but only because of the cool poster - Tom Cruise on the front, with a gun in his hand. The Michael Mann part didn't excite me much at all. I thought Ali and Heat were a little over long and self-indulgent and I couldn't even remember the storyline of The Insider, despite the fact that I'd seen it only a year ago.

That was then.

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Collateral, a film whose screenplay was redrafted by the skilled Frank Darabont, is easily one of the best of the year. It creeps up on you and gradually begins to grip your throat, never letting go as it throttles you through two hours of intense and exciting action-packed drama.

Collateral is about cabbie Max (Jamie Foxx) picking up the fare of his life in Vincent (Tom Cruise), a greying hitman, who has a list of kills he needs to make that night. The basic idea is not an original one, but the sheer style that Mann and his cast exude makes the film extremely enjoyable and deeply enthralling.

It seems that if an actor has done pretty much everything he needs to do (win an Oscar, make $20mill per picture, work with Spielberg) he tends to try more against-type roles. Tom Hanks did it with Road To Perdition, surprising everyone when he turned in an excellent performance as an anti-hero. Here, the other Tom does the same. A lot of people hate Cruise because of his constant smug expression, or his infuriating minimal height, and if you are one of those, then don't expect anything new. He is quality, but remains Cruise throughout, although this is certainly not a let down. He is believable as the nasty hitman and, unlike Hanks, is actually the villain, rather than a misbehaved good guy.

Adam Sandler was originally cast in Foxx's role and you can see why. The team up would have been an odd spin on Sandler's pairing with Damon Wayans in Bulletproof, a film in which his gross out personality was surprisingly effective. But Foxx holds his own against Cruise, his only flaw being that at times he looks like he is trying too hard to be dark and depressed, overcompensating for his firm comic roots.

Mann's intimate direction makes some of the scenes look as if they are being watched from a passer-by's point of view. None of the shots are static and even though handheld camerawork can often lead to directors overlooking the importance of symbolism and cinematography, he manages to provide both intense and yet meaningful filmmaking.

Collateral is a tension-filled two hours, which becomes increasingly fierce as it drives towards a dramatic, thrilling and fitting climax. It's only flaw will be one that you will have to decide yourselves afterwards, as some critics have commented that the ending is too cliché.

I go to the cinema to be taken on a ride and made to feel something I would not likely have felt otherwise and this film certainly provides that, not only through its intense style, but through the quality and realism of the performances.

Mann definitely shoots on target with this one.

Reviewed on: 24 Sep 2004
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Hitman hires a taxi driver in L.A to drive him to his human targets.
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Read more Collateral reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ****
David Haviland ****

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Stuart Beattie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Irma P Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Javier Barden, Emilio Rivera

Year: 2004

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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