Collateral is a 2004 American crime thriller film directed by veteran filmmaker Michael Mann with a freshman script by Stuart Beattie who first developed the idea when he was 17. The film went through several rewrites over the subsequent years, several different directors and at one point both Russel Crowe and Robert Di Nero were in consideration to star. Ultimately Michael Mann was brought on-board to direct. The film stars Tom Cruise as a well dressed hitman with a list of people to kill in one night and Jamie Foxx as a taxi cab driver with big dreams and no idea how to make them come true. When a chance encounter brings the two characters together, Vincent (Cruise) forces Max (Foxx) at gun point to carry out his mission and they set out through the Los Angeles landscape.

Both actors elevate an otherwise simplistic story with nuanced performances and stylish cinematography captured in part for the first time in a Motion Picture by the Viper FilmStream High-Definition video camera. Quick-fire action and praised work by Cruise and Fox lead to an Oscar nomination for Fox for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film would go on to earn over two hundred million dollars in domestic and international box office receipts.

Michael Mann is able to keep the story moving and the interaction between hitman and tax cab driver interesting while building suspense with a veritable who’s-who of notable supporting actors from Jada Pinket-Smith to Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem. Where the film falters is reliance on long, often predictable taxi cab confessions between the characters where each subsequent hit brings them together and forces them apart. There are also minor subplots that seem implausibly coincidental and under develop. What ultimately leaves the film the most unsatisfying is the final showdown where Vincent and Max begin a game of cat and mouse as Vincent guns for the last victim on his list.  The necessity for the bad guy to die in the end is obvious but what isn’t clear is why when faced with the opportunity to carry out his mission does Vincent pause, deliver a line of dialog while opening himself up for Max to shoot him.  The intention is there, to reinforce that Max has changed since the beginning of the film from being timid and indecisive.  Yet I cannot help but recall the character of Tuco (Eli Wallach) in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  Tuco has many enemies and when a would-be assassin finds him indisposed taking a bath, he gets the drop on him.  Instead of shooting Tuco outright, the assassin decides to talk first and shoot second.  Tuco is able to get the drop on the assassin, killing him, to which he exclaims, “If you’re going to shoot, shoot, don’t talk first.”

Overall, Collateral is worth watching for Cruise and Foxx’s performances followed by the opportunity to see origins of the first video camera to be used to capture a Motion Picture.


About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
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3 Responses to Collateral

  1. CMrok93 says:

    It’s fun, and just amazing to sit back and follow. Check out my review here: Nice Review!

  2. Reno Lovison says:

    Interesting review. I would like to have known more about how the use of the video camera contributed to the film.

    • rorydean says:

      Hello Reno,

      Thanks for visiting Above the Line. To expand on my article regarding the video camera that was used in Collateral, one way in which video cameras excel over their film counterparts is with size. Video cameras tend to be much smaller and as a result require less time to set-up, move, and subsequently get into tight spaces that would otherwise require a much more elaborate plan. Do you remember the scene late in the film where the main characters come across a coyote in the road? The reason they were able to capture that scene, which by-the-way was not in the script, was because they were able to move quickly and just turned the camera around to shoot it. Video cameras are also notoriously adept at operating in low light situations, which means capturing the above coyote scene might have been impossible without first ‘striking’ lights so the camera could pick it up. I’m more of a traditionalist with my own projects but see the evolving benefits of video cameras and their application in the entertainment industry.


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