Tuesday, August 10, 2004
EBERT & SURLY: COLLATERAL
Being a huge Michael Mann fan (Heat, The Insider) I was very much looking forward to this film. If you have seen either of these two films (or Ali, or Miami Vice) you will understand immediately what to expect from this film--gritty realism and damn good directing. From a cast point of view, I for one have never doubted Tom Cruise's acting chops (see The Last Samurai), but I have to admit I wasn't sure if Jamie Foxxxxxxxx woul dbe able to pull of the "everyman" routine as the hapless cabdriver. I was wrong.
The plot breaks down like this. Dude (Cruise) hires cabbie (Foxx) to take him around L.A. as he "closes a real estate deal" but is, in actuality, a contract killer. Mayhem ensues. From the beginning, this movie is all about character development and dialogue. It builds up slowly, letting you get to know Foxx's "Max" as a man just trying to get by in life. Enter "Vincent" an indifferent hitman that is likely a reflection of Cruise's darker side to his "All-American Role Model" image (well, minus the whole Scientology/L. Ron Hubbard cult-member thing). The intial interaction between them is brilliant, as the audience gets little tidbits of their personality traits as an appetizer, rather than laying it all out in the first 15 minutes.
Many people have commented on Cruise as the bad guy, so I won't elaborate, but I will say this: its his belivability that makes it work. There wasn't one moment in the film that I didn't believe that Cruise, as Vincent wasn't a total prick. That was a real risk when good-guy Cruise (a la Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire) was signed on for this role. If I had, this film would have fallen on its face.
The film is somewhat violent, but not overly so, and it uses that violence as part of the plot, rather than being gratutitous. Considering the trailer shows a body falling on a cab, I think a semi-intelligent moviegoer knows what to expect.
Here's my one beef--the ending. While I'm sure no one is reading this anyway, I won't give away the end of the movie. I will however say that it is totally Hollywood. I can just see studio executives now: "Well, Michael, its a good film, but its about half an our too long. Let's just wrap it up quickly, shall we?". Result? Totally predictable ending which isn't on par with the rest of the movie. Why spend so much time ramping things up in such excellent fashion when you put on an ending that made you think the ADHD screenwriter just got bored writing and cut and pasted the same ending from 100 other films?
As a whole, the movie was a good use of my $13.50. However, I'm looking forward to the "Alternate Ending" feature I hope will be included when "Collateral" comes out on DVD.
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