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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Collateral

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx
Director: Michael Mann
Rated: R
RunTime: 116 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Suspense, Drama

*Also starring: Javier Bardem, Peter Berg, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Paul Adelstein, Corinne Chooey, Irma P. Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kyu Lee, Bruce McGill, Emilio Rivera, Angelo Tiffe

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Tom Cruise loves challenges - and this is a big one. In this exhilarating, contemporary thriller directed by Michael Mann, he plays Vincent, an imperious, inscrutable, yet engaging hit-man, who arrives in Los Angeles with a contract to assassinate five people. He commandeers a taxi driven by Max (Jamie Foxx), noting that LA is "sprawled out, disconnected, like me." Vincent's offer of $700 cash is irresistible since, for years, Max has had dreams of starting his own limo company. Although he soon realizes that his passenger is a cold-blooded killer, Max is drawn in deeper and deeper until it's too late to escape, particularly in a city where "nobody notices."

Wearing a bespoke suit that sets off his stylish, cropped, silvery hair, Tom Cruise is not only convincing but compelling. In a complex, meticulously detailed performance, Cruise plays evil as if he'd been dipped in it, while Jamie Foxx ("Breakin' All the Rules") is superb as his mild-mannered "everyman" hostage. Jada Pinkett Smith ("The Matrix Reloaded") makes an indelible impression as a savvy, sly prosecutor who precedes Vincent in Max's cab and then crops up later in the story, while Irma P. Hall is effective in a brief scene as Max's feisty hospitalized mother.

Working from Stuart Beattie's intelligent, multi-layered script that delineates the unlikely relationship between these two disparate men, director Michael Mann ("The Insider") keeps the tension taut while exploring the nuances of each character-driven scene, although the conclusion seems agonizingly anti-climactic, as does the dutiful subplot involving two narcotics detectives (Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg) and an FBI agent (Bruce McGill). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Collateral" is an intense, unflinching 8. It's paralyzingly seductive and suspenseful.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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