Tuesday, March 22, 2011


 This is the last of the nine DVD's I rented last Wednesday night. I left it to last as I'm not a great Tom Cruise fan and even less so of Jamie Foxx. If this hadn't starred Foxx I would have ventured to my local cinema and watched it. Well after Monday nights viewing I can say uncategorically that I now regret my decision. This is a very good action/thriller and one that should be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. 
 As I have stated I'm not overly fussed on Tom Cruise. When a Cruise movie is released I don't go running to my local cinema in anticipation. The only film of his I will, and have made an exception for, is Valkyrie. I think this is best role by far and I feel it is because the events it depicts are bigger than Tom Cruise. He had to reign in his ego because if he didn't Valkyrie would have been a Cruise show case and not the historical piece it is. I should be reviewing Collateral but Valkyrie is important as it shows Cruise can act if he leaves his ego and bullshit at the door. He is superb as von Stauffenburg in Valkyrie and must be praised for his performance.
 I would place Collateral second on my list of his performances. In this he exceeds himself and actually plays a part suited to his real self. In life he is a egotistical dick head so his role in Collateral isn't much different from his real persona as they are both dis-likable characters ( the school of 'method' acting being dipped into maybe?? ).
 Jamie Foxx has always puzzled me. How did he ever make it into a-grade movies? He isn't a particulary gifted actor and yet there he is. I had yet to see him in anything that impressed me. All I have seen him in it always felt like Foxx playing Foxx. His performance in Collateral then came as a surprise. It is incredible to think such an overall talentless actor can turn around and secure an Oscar. Credit where it is due because I did like him in this movie, as I did Cruise. Michael Mann take a bow, because this really is you who should take the credit for getting out of this mediocre pairing their respective performances.
 And more of Micharel Man here. I don't usually go into a directors role in the films I watch. I have recently with the many Clint Eastwood films I have seen but this is unusual. I don't ignore them but I like to look at the final product as this is what you see and all the behind the scenes stuff is exactly that, behind the scenes. But once in a while a director leaves an imprint that can't be ignored and must be commented on.
 In Collateral there is another character to contend with. It isn't a cop, a junkie, a street hood, or a bum, it is the city of Los Angeles itself. I have never seen a city so incredibly and beautifully filmed as L.A is in Colaterall. Here we come back to my saying it is a must see on the big screen. The whole movie is shot at night and the proverbial 'city lights' have never been put onto film like this. It is almost mesmerizing and a cheap and effective ( not to mention free!! ) prop to the movie. It is so well filmed that you want to watch it again and be able to reach into the screen and push Cruise and Foxx out of the way just to glory in those lights ( take a bow Mr Mann!! ).
 One scene is a standout though. Cruise is after his last 'hit' for the night and is in a large law building quietly stalking the victim. All good and well, yeah I can see that, etc, but behind him is the real star...the lights of L.A. It is a spectacular scene and must be seen to be believed. You'll honestly wish you could kick some guy called Tom Cruise out of the way and sit there just watching the lights. I'm sure any of you out there with a city view can testify to this feeling. You never get sick of sitting in front of the window and admiring the view of a city at night. For me personally it is one of the greatest sights and pleasures I can think of. Full credit Michael Mann as this has never been bettered and an added and wonderful addition to an overall good movie.
 This is more a thriller than an actioner. There are some action scenes but this isn't the core of the movie. It goes even further than that as it delves into character observation. Foxx plays a cab driver who has 'bullshitted' himself into believing his job of twelve years is only temporary. The problem is that it applies to his whole life. He is stuck in his routine and can't get out of it. He meets Cruise's character who quickly sees through him and is uncomprimising in telling him how his life really is. He tells him to do something about it quick before it is all too late.
 It is an interesting premise in that a detestable character as a hitman is also quite prescient on life. He is an asshole but shows an interest and sympathy with Foxx that one wouldn't expect. Right throughout Cruise  rides Foxx to the point where Foxx loses it and tells him to get fucked and intentionally crashes his cab. It is instructive in that Foxx, after having had enough of Cruise riding him, is so pissed off at hearing the truth about himself he doesn't want to have to face it. There is some great dialogue between the two and lifts Collateral well above just a hitman movie into a quiet look into the characters of individuals and how they live life and percieve themselves.
 Foxx opens up to Cruise whereas this openess isn't reciprocated as such. Cruise doesn't give a toss how he is percieved and isn't worried about how he came to his occupation. He deflects people who try to look at him by turning the tables on his inquisitors and their failures in life. The dialogue from Cruise is superb and unsettling because so much of what he is saying is true and yet we hate him for it. How can this prick think he is in any position to be so observant and judgemental?  These scenes between the two are superb and must be seen as they are very good. With such a superb script and the streets of L.A slowly sliding by it has an almost hypnotic feel. It is one of those movies you experience both visually and intellectually.
 I can't begin to praise Collateral enough. On every level it is a winner and better than could be imagined considering the casting. Cruise has had his hair dyed grey and looks completely different. He is out of character in being the bad guy for once and looks and feels the part. This is not a nice guy and unbelievably Cruise is damn good at it ( his character is so good that one can't call him an anti-hero as he has no redeemimg features what so ever ). Fox, like Cruise, is a revelation. He is outstanding as a cabbie stuck in a rut who finds himself in a corner with a dis-likable killer, who sees through him and tells him so. The script, premise, the dialogue and the fantastic lights of L.A at night make this a must see movie. It is better than what you think even if Cruise and Foxx aren't to your taste. 
 Michael Mann, in making Collateral, has made an intelligent crime thriller and brought untapped talent out of Tom Cruise And Jamie Foxx. It is a fine character study of people in general and original and unsettling in that they come from a hit man. The score is another thing to be aware of because it is very subtle but superbly atuned to each scene. It perfectly sets mood and I love how Mann has selected certain tracks to match how the city scape is slipping by the cab windows. It is very skillfully done. He sets it all off with a city back drop like no other. If for no other reason watch Collateral, ignore the people and concentrate on the city, it is simply magnificent and beautifully filmed.
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  1. So glad you have props to Collateral. This is one of my favorite movies of all time and the best example of "movie running" out there.

    I dig your blog. Definitely following now!

  2. Thanks alot! This is a really good movie and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.

  3. Tom Cruise was great! He needs to be in more roles like this.

  4. You are right!! Problem is I think his ego is too big and he won't go for the bad guy roles. He likes stuff that makes him look good.

  5. Totally agree with you. He was decent in Magnolia, but the performance seem too calculated. "Hey I'm Tom Cruise! I'm swearing a lot!"

  6. That is exactly his problem. I'm Tom Cruise. But he isn't alone in having a big ego in Hollywood unfortunately.