a critiQal film review Collateral (2004)

Plot: Max (Foxx) has driven a cab for 12 years in LA, but has never had a fare quite like the one he has tonight. When Vincent (Cruise) steps into his cab, he unknowingly begins the journey of his life. Because Vincent is a hit man, and nothing will prevent him from making his 5 stops tonight.

582 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 54s)
  • ...with Foxx looking for Cruise's guidance and Cruise too wrapped up in himself to really offer anything, this one falls flat on its face.

This film, Collateral, has received a huge amount of hype. Is it because of it’s provocative plot, or Jamie Foxx’s first real try at acting? Is it because it’s the newest film from acclaimed director Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali (2001))? Nah.

Sadly enough, most of the movie’s hype has stemmed from Tom Cruise becoming a white-haired bad guy. That’s it. Pretty shallow of the viewing audience, isn’t it? Well, I can’t really say that, because that’s what first drew me to Collateral as well. So, would this hugely hyped film show that Tom Cruise can really be anybody, or is this just a bunch of superficial hype over a change in hair color?

Jamie Foxx did a decent job in Collateral, his first true test at acting. He really helped viewers get into the film, and made everything he did as believable as possible. And, with the rave reviews over his performance in Ray (2004), this looks like just the beginning for him. This film makes the viewer want to see more of his burgeoning acting skills. A truly impressive first dramatic performance for a rising star.

Tom Cruise, on the other hand, seemed to not really be involved in his character in Collateral, making him into just another typical bad guy. He doesn’t bring the real feel of his character to the screen at all in the film, making him rather distant to the viewers. The viewers never really get into the how and why behind his character, making his scenes rather dull. He becomes more of a cardboard-cutout of a bad guy than we are expecting going into the film. It’s really surprising, especially since he did so well in his last bad guy role, the Vampire Lestat in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994).

The other characters, a lot of whom will be familiar to movie fans, basically fade into the background as Collateral progresses. It’s a surprise turn in the film, since the director cast so many stars in the film, to just blatantly ill-use most of them. These include (but are not limited to): Mark Ruffalo, Bruce McGill and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Collateral starts out intriguingly enough. A cabbie gets the ill-fated luck of the draw and picks up a hit man. The film’s pace really seems to break down the enjoyment of the film. It has moments of quick scene-to-scene jumps, along with moments of action, then slows right back down again to creeping along at a snail’s pace in between. These slower scenes are where Tom Cruise’s lack of enthusiasm for his role really shows through. He seems more depressed than anything else, and it’s kinda boring to watch his interactions with pretty much anyone else in the film.

Collateral showcases why it takes good performances from two actors to make a movie like this work. Jamie Foxx really seems to be looking for Cruise’s guidance in some of the scenes to keep them flowing, but Cruise is too wrapped up in himself to really offer anything to anyone. Something must be going on in his home life for Cruise’s acting to slip this much. Or maybe he was just having an off-month or two. Most likely, he couldn’t really get in touch with the way he should portray his character.

Let’s just hope he picks up the pace again for the much-anticipated Mission: Impossible III (2006), hitting theaters summer 2006. In the meantime, I’m definitely going to check out Mr. Foxx in Ray (2004).

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