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"But hey, at one point a cop mentions "there are 4,000 cabs in L.A. county", so we know that Michael Mann did his research.  This is a movie jam-packed with accuracy, facts, and meaningful stuff.










The Masked Reviewer

Tom Cruise gets to be as bad as he wants to be in the latest film by Michael Mann.  How bad does he want to be?  It's hard to say.  If you watch the film, you might think that it was his desire to be downright awful.  Ha!  The Masked Reviewer is only joking (mostly).

Jamie Foxx (which would've been a great porn name) co-stars with Tom Cruise.  He's the good guy.  Tom Cruise, he's a bad, bad man (his character, that is).  He's bad, but he cares.  He asks Jamie Foxx's character (Max) about his dreams and his ambitions, while he holds him hostage.  Tom Cruise's character (Vincent) tries to help Max (Jamie Foxx's character) by motivating him to do something with his life, so he must care.  But he's got a gun to Max's (Jamie Foxx's character) head, so he's both good  and bad -- therefore, Vincent (Tom Cruise's character) is complicated.  Hello, Academy Award (tm)!

Sadly, the effort to make Vincent interesting doesn't work.  It's just hokey.  Vincent and Max have a lot of long talks (there's more than enough screen time dedicated to their idle chit-chat) and it never feels realistic or particularly interesting.  They analyze each other and annoy each other.  It gives them a fake basis for a fake relationship, other than hostage/captor.  Vincent's smarmy charm (chmarmy?) doesn't work well enough to ever get us on his side.

This movie is similar in many ways to Phonebooth (2002), starring Colin Ferrell.  By default, any film that is like Phonebooth is also like Liberty Stands Still (2002) with Wesley Snipes.  They're basically the same movie.  A sniper holds a person hostage while they chat on the phone.  In Phonebooth (and Liberty Stands Still), the hostages are both guilty of something, and there's a bit of a question as to whether the snipers are right or wrong, on some level.  In Collateral, the morality question isn't there...Max is a good guy, and he's being dragged along into someone else's mess.  But, all three movies have a similar feel, in terms of being held against your will, and trying to find a way out.  No one in any of those movies seems to do a particularly good job of it, and Max has the best opportunities.  We'd cut him some slack if he were out of his mind from panic, but he keeps his cool throughout the entire film, so it seems unlikely he wouldn't have come up with a better plan than "do everything Vincent tells you to do."

You know, Tom Cruise's character in The Color of Money was also named Vincent.  Perhaps this is a sequel to that film.  It's years later, he's given up pool, and he's taken up...well...the Masked Reviewer would tell you, but that might spoil something for you.  The Color of Money was a sequel to The Hustler, of sorts, so really, this is The Hustler III.  That should be a porno, which should star an actress named Jaymee Foxxx.  See how it all comes together?

Let's talk about believability.  The movie is set in L.A. (Los Angeles, not Louisiana).  How many people live there?  From the coincidences in this movie, we might be led to believe that the number is 15.  And they all hang out together.  Aside from the long talks that Vincent and Max have, Vincent winds up going with Max to visit Max's mother in the hospital.  He buys her flowers, and she loves Vincent.  Sure.  Vincent also finds time to hang out at a jazz club, and we discover that he's very knowledgeable about music.  Okay.  There's a shootout in a crowded room, but people don't run out of the room for several minutes.  Whatever.

But hey, at one point a cop mentions "there are 4,000 cabs in L.A. county", so we know that Michael Mann did his research.  This is a movie jam-packed with accuracy, facts, and meaningful stuff.

Visually, the movie looks exactly as if it were shot on consumer grade video.  The colors are very bland and washed out.  28 Days Later has a much better video quality.  This may be an intentional effort by Michael Mann to add some grit to his gritless movie, but it just looks cheap.  You've got Tom Cruise in a movie, make it look nice, for Pete's sake.  (Pete Berg, that is, who appears in the film too.)

There's kind of a love story involving Jada Pinkett Smith.  Isn't she divorced from Will Smith?  Why is she keeping the name?  Does he get some money every time she uses that name on a marquee?  Maybe she'll marry someone else and just add on names, so that her name eventually takes up the entire movie poster.  Good thinking.  URGENT UPDATE!  It turns out that Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith are still happily married.  They've never been divorced, and would never think of such a thing.  They are happy together.  It's nice to see that they worked things out.  The Masked Reviewer must have assumed that they split up because 50% of marriages end in divorce, and there are two of them (Jada and Will), so 50% of 2 = 100% of 1, so at least one of them was divorced from the other, but the Masked Reviewer didn't check his math.

Anyway, the love story is forced and leads to one of the most predictable outcomes in a movie, but what can you do?

In a word: hokey.  In a few more words: Collateral isn't great; there's too much bouncing between suspense and comedy, but the comedy never plays well.  Jamie Foxx is responsible for almost every laugh in the film (there aren't that many to begin with) and most of the humor comes from Max repeating lines that Vincent had said to him earlier.  It does have a few suspenseful moments, and it's hard not to get worked up when you see ways that Max could get away but doesn't.  Tom Cruise isn't all that good at being bad; he gives a stock performance. 

Fans of Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx will probably enjoy them, though Tom Cruise fans will be let down a bit.  On the other hand, most of his fans will like him because they think he's hunk-o-riffic, so if you're in that group, why are you even reading this?  He's in it.  Go.  For the rest of us, he won't carry the movie.


Expectation from the Title: The long awaited prequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage, before anything got damaged. 

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Tom Cruise may be bad, but he looks good.

The Pros: A few moments of good suspense.  Tom Cruise has gray hair.

The Cons: By the book; a lot of unbelievable situations; no character development to speak of; predictable; analysis scenes between Vincent and Max are tiresome.

The Masked Reviewer is going to add a couple of end notes here.  The first is that the movie is called "Collateral", not "Colateral".  If you did a web search for "Colateral", you spelled it wrong.  No offense.  These things happen.  The Masked Reviewer makes mistakes too.

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