I feel the same way about almost all the Michael Mann films I’ve seen. I hate his camera techniques and sometimes his films are even a little dull, emotionless. But then he throws an action sequence at you that blows your mind, making you forget all the things you’ve disliked about the movie so far. For me, Collateral isn’t all that different. Collateral is the story of a cab driver (Jamie Foxx) taken hostage by a contract killer (Tom Cruise) for a night as the killer completes a series of hits.
Collateral is by far my favorite Michael Mann film (Public Enemies is my second, surprisingly). While it is slow at times (especially at the beginning) overall it is very exciting. The story is great, a really suspenseful, thrilling plot. And the two actors that bring it to life are quite compelling. I never really liked Jamie Foxx until I saw Collateral. He is quite convincing as Max, a good, ambitious guy who can never follow through on his plans. He really feels like an average Joe, someone the audience can easily envision themselves as being. The moment that really blew me away though was when Max has to pretend to be Vincent. It is so difficult for him at first and he just remains his timid self. But then, suddenly Jamie flicks this button and he IS Vincent. He’s commanding, charismatic, and someone who should not be fucked with. It’s a great turn by Jamie Foxx and one of the film’s highlights.
And then of course there is Tom Cruise in one of his best turns, and a rare turn as a villain. I LOVE Tom Cruise. He is one of my all-time favorite actors. There’s a reason why Tom Cruise is the biggest movie star on the planet. He ALWAYS delivers. Tom’s known for his big blockbuster roles, but he is just as effective in more understated films that aren’t so focused on action. I adore him in Rain Man (he is really underappreciated in that film). And he is great here as Vincent. He brings his natural charisma and presence to the role as well as a malice and dangerous quality that the audience rarely sees from Cruise. The whole movie hinges on how convincing Tom is as Vincent and he does not disappoint. And the great thing is, Vincent isn’t some out of control psychopath, chewing the scenenery and screaming constantly. No, Vincent is quite realistic, He’s calm, controlled and he has some opinions that make him relatable. He doesn’t kill people for fun, it’s his job (and he also thinks people are assholes).
Collateral is a great thriller, something that is really rare this days. It has a great blend of action and also raises some great conversations about the nature of humanity. This is a highly entertaining film that satisfies the audience’s desire for action while also treating them like intellectuals instead of complete idiots (as most films seem to do). Collateral gets 8.5/10