Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: "Collateral" is Flashy, Gritty, and Edgy (Happy B'day, Michael Mann)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 143 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Collateral (2004)
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – R for violence and language
DIRECTOR: Michael Mann
WRITER: Stuart Beattie
PRODUCERS: Michael Mann and Julie Richardson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dion Beebe (D.o.P.) and Paul Cameron (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Jim Miller and Paul Rubell
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Irma P. Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Javier Bardem, and Klea Scott

Director Michael Mann is certainly a master of filming deliciously eye candy movies; from his hit 80’s TV series “Miami Vice” to such glossy power ballad films as Last of the Mohicans and Heat, he has delighted us with his visual acumen. His most recent film, Collateral, is, as a visual feast, an absolute delight and, just maybe, a masterpiece, albeit one with a flaw here and there.

A cabby named Max (Jaime Foxx) finds himself the hostage of Vincent (Tom Cruise), an engaging contract hit man, as he uses Max to ferry him around Los Angeles from hit to hit. The screwy duo eventually attracts the attention of Fanning (Mark Ruffalo), a savvy homicide detective. But despite the attention of the police, Max must, on his own, find a way to save himself and the last of five victims, Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), a federal prosecutor who rode in Max’s cab before Vincent and befriended Max.

Collateral’s success is definitely the product of Michael Mann’s vision and of his cast, especially Cruise and Foxx. Mann’s film feels like his last L.A. blast off, the aforementioned Heat, but don’t mistake his visual flair for lack of substance. Mann’s films are always thrilling, even the character dramas, and they breath with life and vitality. Every frame suggests motivation and conflict, so Mann’s glossiness isn’t the shallowness of the many filmmakers his 1980’s work influenced.

Cruise is, of course, a delight to watch; he merely takes his usual film persona and turns of the heat to super intensity and makes Vincent a cold, ruthless machine – a machine that simultaneously has disdain for life and how we live it and a fascination with existence and how we understand it. This performance by Foxx is likely another hint that he is a comic who will reinvent himself as dramatic star much the way Robin Williams and Steve Martin did, but with the success of the former. Foxx’s Max is a troubled man, dealing with the failures and disappointments of life with a mixture of weariness and hope, cynicism and optimism, and stoicism and passion.

But Mann, Cruise, and Fox can’t do it alone. Ms. Smith and Mark Ruffalo are excellent supporting performers, and Ruffalo’s Fanning would himself make an excellent lead character in his own film. Stuart Beattie’s script is also good, especially in creating Vincent, part cipher and intriguing mystery man, but an inviting character who leaves us wanting more. The script did seem a little soft on really fleshing out Foxx’s Max, but overall, the script is a tightly-crafted short story that Mann was able to turn into a thrilling, short, dangerous crime tale that is both gritty and glorious. Collateral may be somewhat lacking in substance, but it’s just about the best confection you can have.

8 of 10

2005 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Editing” (Jim Miller and Paul Rubell) and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Jamie Foxx)

2005 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Cinematography” (Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron); 5 nominations: “Best Editing” (Jim Miller and Paul Rubell), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Jamie Foxx), “Best Screenplay – Original” (Stuart Beattie), “Best Sound” (Elliott Koretz, Lee Orloff, Michael Minkler, and Myron Nettinga) and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Michael Mann)

2005 Black Reel Awards: 1 win “Best Supporting Actor” (Jamie Foxx) and 1 nomination: “Best Supporting Actress” (Jada Pinkett Smith)

2005 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Jamie Foxx)

2005 Image Awards: 3 nominations: “Outstanding Motion Picture,” “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Jamie Foxx) and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Jada Pinkett Smith)


No comments:

Post a Comment