by Michael Mann o-o-o-o-o
“No, I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.”
Only Tom Cruise can deliver that line and make you believe he believes it.
Absolutely no one is waiting on a review of this almost 20-year old film from me. Far more accomplished and knowledgeable people than myself have written about it extensively in the decades since the movie's release. There is no gap that needs filling, and thus writing this (and whipping up my own take on the poster no less) is absolutely frivolous. But after rewatching this marvelous picture for the first time since it was first released, I really wanted to log my great love and admiration of it. I'ma keep it concise and snappy though, because like I said, no one needs this. As far as I'm concerned, it scores highest in the performance and cinematography departments. The performances especially are just really damn good. Tom Cruis' personification of a logical psychopath is perfect and eerily believable. For whatever reason Cruise has opted to spend the second half of his career donning the role of the unbeatable action hero, a stark contrast to the genuine character acting he did earlier in his career (Rain Man, Magnolia, The Firm, A Few Good Men, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut, etc.). COLLATERAL allows him to combine a fair degree of both these sides into a single role, in addition to playing a villain, a role I don't think Cruise has ever played before. Granted, it is very rare to come across a villain written so compellingly, something I'm sure Cruise must've taken note of. Jamie Foxx does an exemplar job of playing the downtrodden everyman. Easily the best I've seen him embody (I did not for a second find him believable in DJANGO UNCHAINED). There's one scene he shares with a young Javier Bardem (YOUNG JAVIER BARDEM!) where he goes against his character, and has to pretend to be badass, but you know he's going against his nature and you feel an immense degree of tension despite them not giving away Foxx's reluctance in any overtly cartoonish way. Seriously, all the performances in this thing is amazing. When Foxx's and Jada Pinkett Smith's character flirt in his cab, it is so real and so sincere you cannot help but blush for the both of them. Even Mark fucking Ruffalo playing the cop hot on the killer's trail is actually believable. Ruffalo usually comes off as the exact same person no matter what role he plays. Not in Michael Mann's COLLATERAL! How Michael Mann was able to get such stellar performances out of literally every single person who appears in this movie is truly a sight to behold. And that of course is besides getting into the camera work and soundtrack and editing. For a movie that takes place entirely at night (a single night actually), it's gorgeously (and believably!) lit. Really well written script. Every single word uttered by every single character is the stuff worthy of a stage play (come to think of it, it would make a glorious piece of theater). The plot, if we're being honest, is kind of dumb as fuck, but with the excellent script treatment it's given, along with the fantastic performance and gorgeous cinematography, it is magically elevated to a work of art.