Movie Report: Collateral (2004)

Book coverThis film came out back when we still went to films in the theater–we were still in Casinoport. I had just started working as a consultant for the digital agency, starting my own consulting company and working from home for the first time. Basically, I’ve worked from home ever since except for a year or so when the agency hired me and had an office downtown. Perhaps that was not a film-filled summer–I was not only working full time for the agency, but I’d picked up short contracts with previous employers for in-office night work and white paper writing. So I had knowledge of the film when it came out and since–Foxx was something then, ainna? His Oscar winning turn as Ray Charles would come out a couple months later–and Cruise was in the mid-career doldrums, although his doldrums tended to move better than actual doldrums.

At any rate, the plot: Foxx plays a cab driver who picks up a blond Cruise at a courthouse after dropping off a prosecutor planning for a big case. Cruise has a couple of stops to have people sign papers for a real estate deal, so he engages the cab driver to drive him to all the stops. But, at the first stop, a body flies out the window and lands on the cab, and Max (the cab driver) learns Vincent (Cruise) is an assassin on a mission to… well, it develops, take out witnesses and the prosecutor in a case targeting one of his clients, or related organized crime figures.

Along the way, Max and Vincent develop a bit of a rapport. Vincent shakes Max out of a bit of a habitual, rote existence dreaming of better things (owning a limo company) and gets him to man up and demonstrate some confidence–one scene has Max going into a nightclub, pretending to be Vincent. But, in the end, the rapport is false, and Max has to protect his mother (whom he visited in the hospital with Vincent) and the pretty prosecutor who rode in Vincent’s cab earlier.

So the film has some depth in exploring the relationship between the men and how it evolves, mostly in Max drawing strength and confidence from the psychopath’s influence and ultimate his testing.

However, some of the plot turns are just that, plot turns, and not actual evolution of the situation. I mean, Max could have gotten away on several occasions before Vincent knew about his mother, but did not. And they’re driving around in a damaged cab with a body in the trunk as though they have nothing to worry about–although they are stopped by police at one point, saved only by the coincidence that the police are just then called to the scene of one of Vincent’s earlier crimes. So the plot as played out detracts a bit from it.

The film also features a young Mark Ruffalo as a police detective on their trail and Jada Pinkett Smith as the pretty prosecutor. Wow, she was pretty back in those days. Now, not so much. Not so much because she has aged–everyone has except my beautiful wife–but because her (Jada Pinkett Smith’s) character has been revealed to be reviled.

So an okay film. Not one I will watch over and over again, and not something that entered the cultural zeitgeist to be remembered or quoted much twenty years later.

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