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Collateral (2004)

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Released:  Friday, September 17, 2004  
Length:  119 minutes
Studio: DreamWorks Studios
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure
Certificate: 15


Collateral © DreamWorks Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Max (Jamie Foxx) is a cab driver who hopes to someday open his own limo company; one night behind the wheel begins promisingly when he picks up Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), an attorney working with the federal government who is attractive, friendly, and gives him her business card after paying her fare. Max thinks his luck is getting even better when his next fare, Vincent (Tom Cruise), offers him several hundred dollars in cash if he'll be willing to drop him off, wait, and pick him up at five different spots over the course of the evening. Max agrees, but he soon realizes Vincent isn't just another guy with errands to run — Vincent is an assassin who has been paid to murder five people who could put the leaders of a powerful drug trafficking ring behind bars in an upcoming trial. As circumstances force Max to do Vincent's bidding, the cabbie has to find a way to prevent Vincent from killing again and save his own skin, a task that becomes especially crucial when he discovers Annie is one of the names on Vincent's hit list.



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Collateral images are © DreamWorks Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Collateral 4K Ultra HD Review

From 1981 to 2001, Michael Mann (Manhunter) directed only seven feature films.  In that same time frame, Tom Cruise (Top Gun) more than tripled that number of films, and Jaime Foxx (Ray) had a total of eleven with his Oscar-winning performance coming later that year as the lead in Ray.  Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, as Jada Pinkett) had a baker's dozen, and Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) had an even twenty-four, albeit none nearly as well-known as Cruise's filmography.   However, when you put all these established and talented individuals together to work on a script written by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), the result is the 2004 well-made, suspenseful and entertaining movie, Collateral.

Max (Foxx) is a taxi driver in Los Angeles, working the night shift.  He dreams of bigger and better things, such as owning his own limo company, but that is only a dream.  One of his many fares is Annie (Pinkett Smith), a Federal Prosecutor for the state of California.  The two seem to have a connection when they argue about the best route to get downtown.  Once Annie arrives at her destination, after giving Max her business card, his next fare is Vincent (Cruise).

Vincent says he is in town for the evening to finish up a Real Estate deal and has five stops to make.  Impressed with Max, Vincent offers him $600 to drive him around.  Reluctantly Max eventually agrees and waits outside at the first stop for Vincent to return.  Suddenly a body falls out a window and lands on the cab at which time Vincent reveals his true reason for being in LA.  He is a hitman sent to remove five targets.  Throughout the night, Max tries to stop Vincent without getting himself killed but to no avail.  When Max crashes the taxi and both men survive, Max is able to see Vincent's last target, Annie.  Using her business card, Max calls Annie to tell her what is happening and eventually he shoots Vincent so he and Annie can escape.

While Cruise was obviously the box office draw for Collateral, it was Foxx who was on a career-high in 2004.  He received nominations for Oscars in both the best-supporting actor category (Collateral) and best leading actor category (Ray), winning the latter Oscar.  His portrayal of Max was multilayered as he wrestled with conflicting ideas of driving Vincent to his "kills" while doing whatever necessary to stay alive.  Pinkett Smith is memorable though her time onscreen is limited and Ruffalo looks entirely different from his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk.  I'm not sure why Cruise insisted on having his hair (basically) spray painted grey.  It doesn't look good and is rather distracting.

This new 4K release is presented in Dolby Vision which doesn't help this film as much as one might think.  Because the movie takes place at night, much of the video is dark and this uptick doesn't change that fact.  There is also a large amount of graininess to the picture which doesn't help any.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is slightly better but makes one wonder why it wasn't upgraded to Dolby Atmos.  Sadly, all the features are of previously released material, which includes: City of Light: The Making of Collateral, Feature Commentary by Michael Mann, Special Deliver, Shooting on Location: Annie's Office, Tom Cruise, and Jamie Foxx Rehearse, Visual Effects: MTA Train, Deleted Scene with commentary by Michael Mann, Teaser Trailer, and Theatrical Trailer.

If you happened to see Marc Dacascos' 2020 film One Night in Bangkok, you would see a resemblance to Collateral.  Though the plots are different, both films have a cab/Uber driver unsuspectedly (at first) driving their fare around at night as their passenger commits murder.  Collateral had a bigger budget so therefore, the talent was a group of seasoned actors, and effects/action sequences were well choreographed.

Cruise isn't completely believable as the "bad guy", though it was nice seeing him take on a different role for a change.  However, it was Foxx who made the movie as good as it was.

Grade: B+


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