# 35 on 100 Movies I Haven’t Seen………..But Should
Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: Stuart Beattie
Staring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Richard T. Jones, Jason Statum, Debi Mazar, Javier Bardem, and Bruce McGill
Okay, look, here’s the deal. Man, you were gonna drive me around tonight, never be the wiser, but El Gordo got in front of a window, did his high dive, we’re into Plan B. Still breathing? Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it. -Vincent
Collateral is the first movie on my 100 Movies I Haven’t Seen…………But Should list that I’m conquering this year and is one of the few more contemporary films on the list. It has been highly recommended over the years and also considered one of Michael Mann’s best pieces of work along with a well received performance by Tom Cruise. I’ve seen a handful of pretty good movies in the past week and feel this is probably the best of the lot. Dark, simplistic, but complex characters in a setting that’s tangible to the eyes and on the edge of adrenaline with a haunting score and soundtrack, Collateral pulls out all the stops and it has to or Tom Cruise might shoot you.
A man starts his evening just like any other and picks up his cab and begins a night of picking up fares. His first is a pleasant surprise and his second offers him an opportunity to make more money than he normally would by driving a strange man around to different locations throughout the night. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Some impossible events follow waiting at the first location and a night that changes Max’s simple existence begins.
There are tricky little cameos throughout so you don’t really know who’s character could be important later or really doesn’t matter at all. What happens to each of these familiar faces is unpredictable and as each moment passes it’s clear there is no way to comprehend what will happen next.
The cinematography brought L.A. to life and the intense soundtrack in the back round played just as an important role as the main actors in this film. The mood, the tension, and the adrenaline was built through not just the outstanding performances of the leads, but by sight and sound.
Jamie Foxx was incredible but it was Cruise who was particularly noteworthy. With a career full of insane character roles, this was one of his most memorable. Playing the sociopath “Vincent” his continual rational and calm reactions to insane events are completely shocking, but Cruise doesn’t withhold emotion entirely. There are clearly wheels spinning behind his dark eyes that show no sense of moral conflict but a curiosity about his cab driver Max. In spite of the darkness of his character, there is something sadistically charming about Vincent that Cruise emotes subtly throughout the film. Foxx made his character seem like any regular guy. His fear, conflict, and irrational reactions and behavior were in tune with a very concrete sense of realism that made his character very easy to empathize with, but also believe.
I love films that take a normal person and put them in extraordinary circumstances and then actually make them react believably. Collateral didn’t insult you and make Max do anything a normal human couldn’t or wouldn’t do. He didn’t develop Vincents skills with guns and athleticism, or suddenly become a marksman. He was a real guy doing what a real guy in his situation might, and the cool as the cucumber sociopath Vincent reacted as one might expect: cold blooded and calculating.
The most compelling aspect of the movie was the strange relationship and chemistry that bonded Max and Vincent together. Forced to share each others company what develops between them and the progression of understanding what made the other tick was the highlight of the film. The way the film ends and some of the moments where it seems the disconnect of Vincent disappears is a subtle build for what does eventually happen.
Michael Mann is one of my favorite filmmakers. I have yet to see Public Enemies, but I loved Miami Vice and feel like it was highly underrated. With other amazing films on his resume like “The Insider”, “Heat”, and “Last Of The Mohicans ” he is an incredible force of creativity. As a director he continues to grow but yet retain the qualities of what made him different and him in the first place.
Collateral ingenuity, it’s riveting performances, seductive mood, and surprising pacing made it one of the best movies of the decade. If anything it exceeded any expectations I had. For dark hearts and movie lovers alike, this is a one of a kind movie that probably gets more and more interesting with each viewing. This belongs in any-ones DVD collection and will shortly be a part of mine.
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