Over five years later and Collateral still remains a great thriller. Sure, the initial buzz around Tom Cruise playing the villain of the piece has long since died, but he is no less effective in that role. In fact, it remains probably one of his best roles to date. Wonderfully crafted, even if it suffers from a couple problems and a questionable finale, Collateral is a first-rate thriller that boasts great production values and a solid effort by the entire cast and crew. Guided by director Michael Mann (Heat), Collateral throws us right into the middle of one of the worst nights one can imagine.
It started like any other night. Vincent (Tom Cruise) is a cool, calculating contract killer at the top of his game. Max (Jamie Foxx) is a cabbie with big dreams and little to show for it. Now, Max has to transport Vincent on his next job – one night, five stops, five hits and a getaway. And after this fateful night, neither man will ever be the same again. Tonight everything is changing. Boasting a cool vibe from director Michael Mann and powerhouse performances from Cruise and Foxx, Collateral takes viewers on an unforgettable ride.
When that body slams onto the roof of Max’s car, it startles you. It instantly glues the viewer to the screen and, from here on in, it has our undivided attention. We already know Cruise is playing a hit man in this film, but it just doesn’t really register until that jarring moment. It’s completely shifts the tone of the movie and puts you on the edge of your seat. All predictability is tossed out the window from here on in. Max now finds himself in an impossible situation trapped between both a cold hitman and federal agents quickly closing in on the ruthless killer.
Mann makes everything feel so real, so honest, so realistic, up until the climax when the film degrades into typical “action film” territory. The characters seem so bang-on, flaws and all, and the events seem to unfold with an air of honesty. It’s hard to believe this is the same man who directed the superficial Public Enemies last year. Even more, Foxx and Cruise make a great reluctant pairing. Cruise especially gives a great and surprising performance here. The “charm” he’d use playing the good guy in other films is flipped on its head here, giving him such a sinister and uneasy vibe. Cruise gives his character depth, coming across as more than just a one-note baddie, but one littered with shades of grey.
Foxx gives a great “in” for the audience, the regular Joe Schmoe who finds himself in an utterly shocking situation. More importantly, Mann doesn’t give Foxx an unrealistic character arc to go through, where he learns a valuable lesson, yada yada yada, but a realistic one of…just a guy in a bad situation. At the start of the movie and at the end, Foxx is who he is. Both he and Cruise just disappear into their roles, which helps enormously in adding to the layers of reality Mann has already bestowed on the movie thanks to his superb directing and use of cinematography. Toss in a great script and solid story and you, my friends, have a recipe for a great thriller deserving of at least one go-through.
If the film has any faults, it’s the finale. I will not spoil any details, but I find the film takes a noticeable shift in tone at the end, becoming more a typical overblown action flick than a taut thriller. It all leads to a gunfight that is just…kind of ridiculous. It doesn’t ruin the movie by any means, and many don’t mind, but I found it somewhat jarring when that final “action sequence” begins. Suspend your disbelief and you should be fine. Perhaps I’m being too picky, but that is the only real fault I found in the film. It’s a great one, don’t get me wrong, and it’s worth a spin.
By no means does this film rewrite the rules or change anything in the thriller genre, but it is a great entry nonetheless. Taut, suspenseful, and a fantastic look and feel to it, Collateral works on nearly all levels. Whether it’s the great acting, skillful directing, engaging story or film style, everything seems to click. Yes, I find the finale to be a bit of a letdown, but the movie is still a rock-solid addition to anyone’s viewing library. Coming Highly Recommended, Collateral is a movie that will grab you for an unforgettable night of bloodshed and intrigue. Like I said, it doesn’t rewrite the book in any way, but it’s thrilling and fresh enough to keep viewers compelled until the very end.
Paramount Home Entertainment has created a great release for this catalog title. A solid package through and through, Collateral is definitely be worth the sticker price! Just look past the hideous cover art (why not keep the original and very awesome artwork?) and enjoy the excellent assortment of goodies this title has waiting for you.
The audio and video is excellent, primarily thanks to the how Mann filmed the movie, using primarily digital tools to capture the action. While there may be some very evident noise on screen, that is merely a byproduct of the digital cameras used to film the movie, and (I believe) actually adds to feel of the movie. It adds a great grit to the film. That being said, the color palette is quite vibrant here, even with the noise, and the detail is stunning at times. For those who own the original DVD release of Collateral will notice a difference. There are some soft moments here and there that again seems to be a byproduct of the filming techniques used. The audio is also truly excellent with a solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio mix. Every bit of dialogue and action comes out crystal clear. Whether it’s a quiet, tense scene between the two leads, or the loud streets of L.A., everything seems in perfect balance, the speakers provide a great experience. At times the audio provides such an immersive experience, such as the club sequence or when shots ring out, and sounds pretty impressive.
Porting over the bonus features from the original DVD release of Collateral, Paramount Home Entertainment provides a nice wealth of content to service the main feature. Bonus features include a pretty fascinating commentary by direction Michael Mann, who discusses many different aspects of the film, including the advantages of shooting digital and the work both main actors put into their roles. The track is always interesting, without a doubt.
Moving on, a solid 40-minute ”making of” documentary is next. City of Night: The Making of ‘Collateral’ pretty much covers all aspects of making the film and how it came together. This includes the training both Cruise and Foxx undertook for their respective roles, the script, shooting, locations, the score, and nearly every aspect of the film imaginable. It’s a very solid above-average making of documentary that cuts the fluff and just gets to the meat of what film fans want to know. After that is a series of brief featurettes, looking at different facets of the film’s production, deleted scenes and the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers. Save for the high-definition trailers, all bonus features are in standard definition.
If you enjoyed this movie, whether during its original theatrical release or DVD home video release, then picking up the Collateral Blu-ray release seems to be a no-brainer. Definitely a great addition to anyone’s collection, Collateral offers an exciting, taut thriller that showcases the stylish directing of Mann and surprising turns by Cruise and Foxx – especially Cruise. On top of that, Paramount has done this movie very well, offering up excellent video and audio transfers and porting over all the original bonus content from the original DVD release. Everything you could want is right here, just now on Blu-ray. It’s an excellent package for a great catalog title. Paramount Home Entertainment continues to pump out excellent Blu-ray releases and this title is no exception. Highly Recommended
Collateral is now available to own on Blu-ray. Previously available on DVD and VHS.