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
If you look at my trailer review for Blackhat you’ll see that I was on the fence about this film. But yesterday I decided to give it a chance. I knew when I entered the theater I had made a mistake. It was Tuesday, cheap night. And there were 4 people in the theater. Everyone else must have been seeing American Sniper.
I had some hopes for Blackhat despite it opening in January and being a Michael Mann film. I wanted it to be a smart cyber thriller. Which it is for the most part. It just isn’t very exciting. I don’t really like Michael Mann’s movies, and I don’t like his techniques for the most part. I saw Heat once (a film that everyone else loves) and I didn’t like it. Admittedly I was tired at the time and not fully paying attention to it though. I do like Public Enemies though (a film that everyone else hates). The first time I saw it I hated it, but on the second viewing it was quite good. Mostly because of Marion Cotillard, but there are other things to like about it as well. I hate the shaky camera thing Mann always does, it takes me out of the movie and makes me feel a little nauseous. Also the gunfire in his films is always so loud it’s almost deafening.
While I don’t like Mann for the most part, he is able to do a great action scene. There are two action scenes in Blackhat that are great, really absorbing. And the whole shaky camera, slow-mo, loud gunfire works. Amazingly. If only the whole movie could have been more like that. But it’s hard to make a movie about hacking exciting. I think having a more present score would have helped (it felt like there was nearly no music in Blackhat). The score is an integral part of creating tension and here it is very absent. A more charismatic leading man would have also helped things. Chris Hemsworth is fine, he just doesn’t bring any drama or excitement to things. I read another review that said something like “imagine Tom Cruise as the lead instead.” Someone with that kind of leading man quality would have greatly enhanced the film. The other big fault with Blackhat is the villain. He is boring. He has no motivation at all. He doesn’t even “want to watch the world burn.” The stakes don’t feel high because the villain is a non-entity for most of the film and when he and his big plan are revealed it is extremely anti-climactic.
There are a few good things about Blackhat. It isn’t dumb (except for bullet proof magazines???). The diverse cast was also quite refreshing (Leehom Wang and Wei Tang are good). Viola Davis is a standout, bringing humor to the film (Chris has a few funny lines too). But overall Blackhat is a disappointment. There’s about 10 excellent minutes and the rest is mediocre. 5/10
Blackhat is Michael Mann’s first film since 2009’s Public Enemies. It stars Chris Hemsworth as some kind of hacker who is released from prison to track down another cyber criminal. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get it. This kind of stuff just goes over my head sometimes.
Some people are complaining that Chris Hemsworth doesn’t look like a hacker. I think that’s a pretty shallow criticism to have and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Not all hackers have to wear glasses and pocket protectors. I would have preferred someone a bit older in the part though, someone a little more weathered, like James McAvoy. This may be Chris’s chance to show some range outside of Thor, I think he looks alright so far.
A minor thing, but I don’t like Viola Davis’s wig. That thing looks ridiculous and distracting. Another thing, I hate the name of the film. Blackhat? What the heck does that mean?
The subject matter doesn’t interest me much, but I like the feel of the trailer. You can tell that it’s a Michael Mann film what with the cinematography and the filter. I like Public Enemies and Heat, so I’ll probably see this film. But I think I’ll wait for the DVD. This trailer doesn’t convince me to spend a lot of money at the theater opening weekend.