(2004)  

Alan:

Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone:1/2 TV Guide:



Warning, minor plot points revealed!

I enjoyed Collateral although I thought it was kind of slow and had a preposterous interconnection of characters.  I'll get that little complaint out of the way right here at the beginning.  It was just too much of a coincidence that a cabbie (Max) picks up an Assistant District Attorney, chats her up, gets her number, then drops her off at her office where he picks up his next fare who just happens to be an assassin (Vincent) who intends to kill five people in one night who are all associated with the case that the ADA is working on and she is in fact the fifth victim on the list.  

Since I have basically told the whole story above, the only thing left to add is that the Vincent expects Max to chauffer him around the city as he dispatches his targets.  This idea goes wrong during the first kill and Max eventually becomes a hostage and unwilling assistant in Vincent's crimes.  

This is a Michael Mann movie (Miami Vice, Heat) so the gritty streets of LA are practically one of the characters in the film.  Max's cabbie knowledge of these streets borders on genius so that's why Vincent decides to use him for the night.

The movie works but without the excitement and speed of a typical thriller.  There's no big chase or action scenes and the parts of the movie that are suspenseful are paced so maddeningly slow that you lose interest before they end.  

The two  main actors here are Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx.  Both do a super-terrific job with their roles.  Tom Cruise, in a rare villain part, is excellent as a top notch assassin who kills with surgical precision and appreciates an orderly schedule.  Jamie Foxx, who is beginning to leave his comedy behind and reach for top shelf dramatic status (Any Given Sunday, Ali, Ray), does a great job keeping up with Cruise.  Keep an eye on Jamie Foxx.  Ray might just win him an Oscar.  Either way he's a major talent.  Playing the Fifth victim on Vincent's hit list is Jada Pinkett Smith.  She does little more than look pretty and play the girl in distress.

Collateral is a decent picture.  I didn't love it or hate it.  It did just what it set out to do but just took a lot more time than it needed to get the job done.  It will be a good movie to check out on DVD some night when you're tired and just want a good drama that won't get you too excited.