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Review byMatthew Turner14/09/2004

Four out of five stars
Running time: 120 mins

Collateral finds director Michael Mann back on top form after his worthy, but disappointing Ali biopic. Shot on digital video, it's a stylish, impressively directed, smartly written thriller with superb performances by both Cruise and Foxx.

Jamie Foxx stars as Max, a slightly nerdy L.A. cabbie who has nursed dreams of his own limo service for the last 12 years. As the movie opens he picks up hot lawyer Jada Pinkett Smith and somehow manages to score a date with her. However, his luck then takes a sudden nose-dive, as his next fare is Vincent (a silver-haired Tom Cruise), a cold-blooded contract killer who forces Max to drive him round L.A. while he knocks off five people on his hit list.

Collateral features all the Michael Mann trademarks: gorgeous photography (L.A. never looked so good); a smooth soundtrack; stylish action sequences and a strong, tension-filled dynamic between its two male leads. It also has all the ingredients you expect from a Tom Cruise movie - there are a couple of scenes where he runs really, really fast, plus the obligatory speech about how his father never loved him etc.

Most of the hype surrounding Collateral has focussed on the fact that Cruise is playing against type, but the attention is deserved, as he gives an impressive performance, ditching the cocky grinning antics and suggesting a genuinely dark, interesting character. Foxx is equally good, proving a decent match for Cruise but also brilliantly portraying a recognisably ordinary man caught up in horrifying circumstances - there are no Bruce Willis-style heroics here, Foxx plays Max as tense and suitably intimidated throughout.

In addition to Cruise and Foxx, there's good support from Mark Ruffalo and Peter Berg (as the cops on Cruise's trail) as well as Mann regular Bruce McGill and Spanish actor Javier Bardem.

It's not entirely flawless - one or two of the lines might raise an unintentional giggle and the climax relies too much on coincidence. Also, it seems odd that Vincent should be such a crack shot throughout the film and then suddenly start missing his targets towards the end.

That said, there are several great scenes that more than make up for the flaws. Highlights include a spectacular shoot-out in a night-club and Cruise fending off some would-be muggers. There's also an enjoyably bizarre sequence where Vincent takes Max to enjoy a spot of jazz between hits and then on to visit his hospitalised mother ("Max doesn't usually visit me unless someone puts a gun to his head..."), played by Irma P. Hall (from The LadyKillers).

In short, Collateral is a decent thriller that delivers both suspense and action - it's well worth seeing, thanks to Mann's stylish direction and impressive performances from both leads. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/11/2019 07:28

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