(Action/Drama: 2 hours); Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Mark Ruffalo; Director: Michael Mann; Rated: R (Strong violence and language)
Movie Review: Max (Foxx) is a cabbie who has been driving around on the night shift. Max takes pleasure in noting that driving a cab is just a temporary job while he earns money to build his own chauffeur company. More intriguing, Max has driven cabs for about 12 years. Makes one wonder what he considers a permanent job to be. Max's life is turned upside down when he picks up a gray-haired Vincent (Cruise). Vincent is no regular cab fare, even for Los Angeles. After spending minutes with each other, Max learns that Vincent is really a hitman, and he is Vincent's unwilling driver for the rest of night. For Max, every stop is a lethal one, literally.
Director Mann leaves audiences with an interesting thought: Who is more malevolent? The guy who is and admits it, or the man who is and strives to be unaware of it?
Mann helms this enticing drama of energetic action and thrills that keep one absorbed and on the edge of one's seat. The dialogue is key. The exchanges between Cruise and Foxx drive "Collateral." Their characters become more familiar as the movie continues, making character development first-rate.
Cruise's self-assuredness is a winner here. Not since his male chauvinistic role in "Magnolia" has Cruise been so intriguingly impressive. Cruise, with gray hair and a lightened beard, plays a killer, allowing his role to be one of arrogance. Yet Cruise's over-confident Vincent is a delight as he snaps out wise quotes in between killings. He is the villain, and he is as bad as they come, with no remorse. When asked by Foxx's Max, "You just met him, and you kill him like that." Cruise's Vincent responds, "What? I should only kill people after I get to know them?"
Just as impressive, make that more, is Jamie Foxx, a guy known mainly for his comedic and singing roles. Foxx, who will play Ray Charles in the upcoming "Ray," is very serious as taxidriver Max. Foxx plays the ordinary guy caught in the most unique circumstance. Foxx's approach to his character is one that could be seen as a psychological study of the working man's ego when his life becomes more complicated. Foxx's character lives in a state of lies and fantasizes, making him as disjointed as Cruise's role. Together, the men create powerful imagery. The beautiful Jada Pinkett-Smith and the accomplished Mark Ruffalo are adequate supporting actors.
While the ending is not as potent as all leading up to it, Mann still provides a strong action-drama. Looking for a summer action feature that has everything, Director Mann and crew offer "Collateral."
Grade: B+ (Worth the ante.).
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