The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Collateral

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Judy Thorburn

Collateral

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

TOM CRUISE IS A DRIVEN KILLER WITH "COLLATERAL"

Tom Cruise, the world’s most popular male superstar, has played a variety of roles in his over twenty-year film career.  But, we have never seen him play such a badass character as the cold-blooded hit man in Collateral. His contracted assassin is far removed from any of his other film roles. He’s been a vampire (Interview With A Vampire) and a morally corrupt motivational speaker (Magnolia).  But, those guys don’t come close to this gun for hire with only one thing on his mind, getting his job done at whatever, and whoever the cost.  It could be a risky departure for Cruise, but the seasoned actor strikes the right chord.  Toned down is the boyish good looks and mega watt smile.  In its place is a steely eyed, silver haired, slick dressed, professional killer, an effective portrayal Cruise can add to an already impressive resume.

But, surprising a change as this is for Cruise (or an “exciting challenge”, as Tom put it, in a TV interview) he is still the secondary character to co-star Jamie Foxx.  Tom may have the big name attraction, but Jamie is definitely the lead in this story of a cab driver who finds his life on the line when he picks up the passenger from hell.

It starts out as a routine shift for mild mannered, Max Durocher, a cabbie for 12 years who dreams of one day starting his own limousine service.  His first fare at LAX is pretty, but insecure, federal prosecutor named Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) who engages in a comfortable, flirty conversation with Max, revealing how fearful she is about losing a case before exiting his cab and leaving her card.   But, soon after she is dropped off, things soon change for the worst when Max picks up a hired assassin, Vincent (Cruise).  Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time!

Flown in by a drug trafficking czar (Javier Bardiem, Before Night Falls cameo) to eliminate five key witnesses in a federal probe that would nail the cartel boss, Vincent offers Max $600 to be his ride for the entire night.  Not that Max has a choice. Taken hostage after personally experiencing a dead body landing on the roof of his cab, Max is forced to spend the entire night driving the contracted killer all over L.A. as he targets the names on his hit list.  And, as the bodies start piling up, undercover street detectives (a wasted Mark Rufallo and Peter Berg) find themselves in hot pursuit of the relentless killer at work.

The aim of the movie is less about a murder spree and more about the relationship between the central two opposing characters, and how it plays out.  Both the killer and innocent accomplice must depend on each other to make it through the night and we get to see how that enfolds.  Some humor is injected into their verbal sparring, and the dialogue consists of Vincent delivering some philosophical banter on his ideas about life that is supposed to show a more human, thoughtful side to the cool, focused professional killer, a man who is the very opposite of Max, a dreamer cabbie who has been stuck in what he refers to as a “temporary job”.  Jamie Foxx does a solid job evoking a laid back kind of guy who has to find it in himself to take charge and not be another victim. Through his experience with Vincent, he is finally faced with doing what he has to do that will forever change his life.

Director Michael Mann delivers a beautifully stylish film with the terrain, buildings and lights of the nighttime city helping to capture an eerie atmosphere where anything can happen unnoticed in the darkness.  Interesting is that a large portion of the movie was shot in high definition video that creates a clear, live on screen, look.  It adds a “you are there” feel to the story for more realism and added edge.

Unfortunately, there are too many other elements that are distracting and break down the credibility of the story.  The script is littered with contrivances, coincidences, plot holes, and improbabilities. What bothered me the most was what happened when Vincent takes a break from his scheduled “job” to accompany Max for a visit to his mother in the hospital. Max escapes and leaves an angry, deadly Vincent alone in the room with his bed-ridden mother. What person in their right mind would do this?  I don’t think so.  And, what are the chances that his first fare of the evening would also just happen to be the last name on the hit man’s list? I knew Jada Pinkett Smith figured into the equation. Also, is it any surprise that the meek underdog will come through as the hero, in the final shoot em up confrontation?

The forceful dynamics between Cruise and Foxx keep your attention even when the direction of the story veers into some wrong turns.  But, are they enough to warrant a good review?  Put all the elements together in this “Taxi Cab Confessions” meets “Terminator”, and the bumpy ride, although well driven, still winds up at a dead end.