Collateral (2004)
(Release Date: August 6, 2004)

1/2

Jamie Foxx is incredible, but Collateral is Contrived!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

The idea behind Collateral is fantastic. A professional assassin hires a Cabbie for one night from somewhere between 9 P.M. to somewhere around 6 A.M. Put Michael Mann in the director's chair and Stuart Beattie's script becomes both claustrophobic and expansive, showing a rich nightscape of Los Angeles at night while showing the Cab Driver as a trapped "Man in a Box". Fantastic idea, and fantastic directing... but Collateral degenerates to an almost T.V. Movie of the Week suspense thriller with silly character motives and ultimately predictable Hollywood action, with the ubiquitous addition of Tom Cruise in a leading role. Mann's skill is obvious in his directing and in his multiple camera "moods", which makes it all the more Frustrating when the film shows its size-eleven plot-holes.

The one thing that elevates this movie from "mixed-bag" status is the excellent and dynamic acting of one Jamie Foxx! Foxx isn't good here... Foxx is incredible, like the Hulk, man! Aside from Foxx's complete success, Collateral is an attempt at being a great film. Unfortunately, "Attempted" only counts in the criminal justice system, Kemosabe!



Tom Cruise brings us the character of "Vincent", a hitman on business in Los Angeles. You can tell that Tommy is still searching for acclaim in that he's now playing a bad guy, and he's allowed himself to be placed in a gray-frosted wig, making him (we guess) just damned, damned menacing. While Cruise does just fine as Vincent, it's hard not to see the whole thing as calculated as Ashton Kutcher's "dramatic" facial hair in The Butterfly Effect. Bad Tom is sure getting Pat O'Brien talking and all, but, hully gee, let's face it, Tom Cruise in a wig looking mean is still just Tom Cruise! Like him or hate him, amigo, all his characters seem a lot more like Tom Cruise than they do anything else. Still, he fills the space really well, and comes across as an inconsistent, but driven villain. Sort of the way George W. Bush sees John Kerry.

When Jamie Foxx's intelligent but stagnant Cab Driver Max catches on (the hard way) to Vincent's real reason to be in L.A. his pinball game of emotions begins, and he nails it like a dollar whore. When he's not pining over Jada Pinkett Smith's D.A. Annie, or dreaming of retiring in a Limo to some island without Jeff Probst, Max is working hard on thwarting Vincent... or at least pissing him off!

And this is where the movie starts losing its logic. Mann and Beattie have set up a series of dominoes, and dutifully knock each one over in turn without really worrying about the sense it makes to the overall story. As brilliant and as well-developed as Max is, he certainly makes some ridiculous choices. Sure he's moving the plot along, but Foxx's excellent acting deserves better than status as a filmic cue stick! Aside from the unlikely moments, there is also more implausibility here than in the entire Fourth Season of South Park.

All the while each character has enough screen time to deliver philosophical and metaphorical dialogue that sounds alike regardless of who says it. Sure some people talk like this... but unless you're watching the WB's Gilmore Girls, not everybody does.

You'll see what I mean when you watch these laborious-to-endure moments of waxing metaphysical and surviving the impossible. And I recommend that you do! Why? Jamie Foxx! In more than a lot of moments he steals the show, and proves that he's a truly great actor, light years beyond The Jamie Foxx Show, and even improving upon his turn in Any Given Sunday.

While there are as many Tom Cruise detractors as there are fans, Collateral also features a very fine performance by Jada Pinkett Smith, not to mention Mark Ruffalo's Detective Fanning. The best thing about Peter Berg's bland overacting in this movie is that he's not off directing Thornton, The Rock or Slater to blandly overact in some other movie! All this, plus Debi Mazar gives her best cameo as a taxi passenger, since her cameo in The Tuxedo as a taxi passenger!

At a Glance: A great idea with a great director falls a bit flat in its same-ness of dialogue, predictable moments, and implausible action. Good acting, and in the case of Jamie Foxx, great acting, as well as a few surprises to kill the predictable moments ultimately makes Collateral an above average thriller from the eye of a smart director! All this combines for a solid Three and One Half Star out of Five motion picture. I wonder if these psychological thrillers keep dissolving into cheesy T.V. Movie predictability, will we end up with a remake of Les Diaboliques featuring Meredith Baxter-Birney and Susan Day, an appearance by "The Ohio Players" and a one-line description of the Final Act in the opening credit sequence removing all dramatic tension from this Lifetime Movie Network Production! Dude, while I expunge such thoughts from my head, let me just say... I'll see you in the next reel!

It's... it's your future... I see a Cab Ride!
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Collateral (2004) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is solely responsible for this article and for the fact that he's only writing these reviews temporarily!!
Got something to say? Write it!

I'm ready to see Ray! It's the new Jamie Foxx movie about Ray Charles (Robinson).
Everyone waxes Philosophical! Completely implausible moments!
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