It’s Thursday, which means time for a throwback! So let’s go back into the archives for one of my favourite films from the vault.
Collateral will always stand out to be as the first DVD that I purchased, way back in 2004! I ended up buying it on a hunch, I hadn’t watched it before, the films box art was very slick, the plot sounded intriguing, plus it had Tom Cruise, so worth a punt! Needless to say, it was a great pick, and to this day, still stands out as one of my all-time favourite movies!
So the film revolves around the story of Max (Jamie Foxx), a cab driver in LA, who yearns to give up his life as a cabbie, and one day, run his own private limousine firm. One unfortunate night, Max picks up a dangerous passenger, a mysterious man named Vincent (Tom Cruise), who reveals himself as a contracted hit-man. Our cab driver is taken hostage, and forced into driving our assassin around the city as Vincent goes through his list of targets.
Max: I can’t drive you around while you’re killing folks. It ain’t my job!
Vincent: Tonight it is.
The film simply oozes style. The presentation is very well polished, director Micheal Mann portrays late night LA as a wonderfully noir setting. The film has a good habit of cutting away to the late night shots of the as transition points. The bright lights provide a serene backdrop to an urgent situation. The majority of the first half takes place in the cab, and we focus on the dialect and interactions between our two characters. The verbal exchanges between the two are just as good as the action. It’s a game of cat and mouse, one trying to get the upper hand on the other. Even though Vincent is a violent person, you can see him develop some respect for Max, and his way of life. Vincent could easily kill Max if he wanted, but the two develop a compelling bond, which is displayed when they have to visit Max’s mother at hospital. The chemistry between the two is so good; they almost stand out more than the action.
If I recall, this was one of the first roles in which Cruise played a straight out villain, so that was a big discussion point in the build up to the film’s release. Vincent is truly a great character, not only does he look the part, but he is convincing as a cold hearted mercenary. The film is not overtly violent, so the times it does get intense, are remarkable. The scenes where Vincent is required to show his ‘professionalism’ are memorable, especially the situation involving his briefcase! The film makes use of real gunshot effects, and you can tell. It just adds that extra layer of realism to the movie.
The set piece of the film is the unforgettable shoot out at Club Fever. If you’ve watched John Wick, this scene will look very familiar. This was the original though, and simply cannot be beat. The entire situation is captured magnificently, the action is thrilling, the tension is palpable, and the music just caps it off, “Ready,Steady,Go” is the perfect song, and it’s now synonymous with this movie! Even if you don’t have the time to watch the entire film, I would highly recommend you find this scene on YouTube!
Max: You killed him?
Vincent: No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.
Jada Pinkett Smith plays the attorney Max meets the same night as Vincent, plays an important part in the mission that our hit man has been sent on. Mark Ruffalo is huge now, but he had one of his earlier roles here! Taking on the role of the detective, who is on the trail of Vincent’s growing body count. Javier Bardem also features, as a wiley mob boss. There is also a cameo from none other than Jason Statham (with hair!)! Keep your eyes open during the opening moments when Vincent lands at LAX!
One other thing to mention, is the excellent soundtrack, the music encapsulates the vibe of the film, reflecting the night life of the city perfectly. The director was spot on with the choice of music used here, and that only helps make the film even greater!