From The Archives: COLLATERAL (2004).

Posted: September 10, 2011 in Crime, Los Angeles, Michael Mann, Movies (C)

I’ve posted about this movie before, but since I’m doing my ten of the decade, it’s never a bad time to revisit

#4.  Collateral (2004)

After Punch-Drunk Love, this is another movie that quite honestly captures the feeling of Los Angeles, the way I experienced it throughout the past ten years, only now we’ve gone over the hill and deep into downtown.  Make no mistake: This very much is certain parts of LA after midnight.

Michael Mann is every bit the equal of PTA when it comes to conjuring up atmosphere, mood, and a sense of place, and in Collateral he’s working with a killer high-concept to carry us through.  Mann also sees uncommon things in familiar  actors – Jamie Foxx plays the introverted cabdriver, adrift in life, who one night gets a course-changing fare in Vincent, an ice-cold contract killer played brilliantly by Tom Cruise.  Yes, I said brilliantly, and I also said iconic.

Vincent is the culmination of intense, work-fixated Mann characters from Thief to Manhunter to Heat, distilled into most existentially dire form.  Vincent has no purpose in life other than his job, and his job is killing.  How do you fight that?  How does Jamie Foxx fight that?  I love how Collateral resolves that question dramatically, among so many other things I love about it – brilliantly-chosen soundtrack, peerless LA night photography by Dion Beebe, an unbelievable stable of great character actors including Bruce McGill, Barry Shabaka Henley, Jada Pinkett Smith (not annoying!), Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Bardem (even scarier here than he was in No Country For Old Men).  Michael Mann is my favorite director and this is one of his most straight-ahead crowd-pleasers.

A neo-noir classic.

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