Movie Reviews: Collateral




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     DreamWorks (2 hrs.)
     Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Irma P. Hall
     A hitman forces a cabbie to drive from one contract killing to another.
Bottom Line:


I’m looking forward to Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of "the genius" Ray Charles in the upcoming bio-pic "Ray." I couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have said that a year ago with fresh memories for Foxx starring in that stellar classic "Booty Call" and most recently the very poignant "Breakin' all the Rules."

I felt he was an OK comedian, who should leave the drama to other. However, after Foxx showed his dramatic chops as Crips founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams in FX’s original movie "Redemption" last April, he made me start to reconsider my opinion.

And now Foxx turns it up a notch as Max, a cabbie with a dream to own his own limousine service, but somehow he just can’t seem to pull the trigger, (pardon the pun) in the thriller "Collateral."

As the film opens, Max’s first fare of the night is an attractive federal prosecutor named Annie, (Jada Pinkett) who’s nervous because it’s the night before a big case. Annie and Max end up making a bet that Max doesn’t know a faster route than Annie had suggested to her downtown LA office. If Max loses, or the ride is free.

Max ends up winning bet and the two become fast friends. Annie gives Max her business card, and suggest he call her sometime. Exiting Annie’s building is Max’s next fare, a man named Vincent (Tom Cruise) who seems nice enough at first. Even when he insists that Max drive him to five locations which will take all night. Max is reluctant at first, until Vincent whips out six crisp $100 bills.

The first stop is an apartment building where Max pulls around into an alley after letting Vincent out, because there’s no parking in front of the building. Suddenly a body lands atop Max’s cab.

The stage is set when Vincent comes running into the alley, Max accuses him of throwing the man out of the window. Vincent assures Max that his bullets killed the man and then he fell out of the window.

Vincent confesses that he’s a hitman, and he wants Max to drive him to his remaining destinations, or he’ll kill him. With a gun to his head, Max reluctantly agrees.

"Collateral" is character study of what people do when overwhelmed with pressure and stress of an impending situation that they cannot control.

As Max fears for his life, he gets into long detailed conversations with Vincent. And the people they meet at each stop are three-dimensional and true to life figures, not just cardboard characters inserted into the film, whose killings by Vincent are just a device to move the plot along. Director Michael Mann allows dialogue not action to move the story along. Barry Shabaka Henley, who plays the owner of a small nightclub where Miles Davis played one night, gives a heartrending and memorable performance of a man who knows he’s been targeted for execution.

"Collateral" does have its holes, such an interesting sub-plot involving a police detective tracking Vincent, that simply falls apart after a great build up. And there there’s a couple of Mafia type guys who are ordered to follow Vincent to insure he completes his last hit. They kind of just disappeared from the storyline. Maybe we’ll see what happen to them on the DVD in a few months.

However, all that can be forgiven by Jamie Foxx’s dramatic performance as a man at his wit’s end, and that of Tom Cruise’s chilling performance of the cold-blooded Vincent.



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