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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In COLLATERAL, by director Michael Mann (THE INSIDER), Tom Cruise plays a bad guy, a really bad guy named Vincent. (Reportedly, Cruise was offered the part of the good guy but wanted to play the bad one instead.) In L.A. just for the night, Vincent is a hit man with five names on his dance card. Although he's only supposed to plug five people, he doesn't think twice about shooting any more that get even briefly in his way. With his crisp white shirt and his expensive gray suit, which appears to have been chosen to match his perfectly coiffured gray hair, he looks like an executive, not a killer, especially given the meticulous way he keeps all of his notes on his high tech, tablet computer.

For transportation, Vincent commandeers a taxi along with its very reluctant driver, a sweet and reserved cabby named Max (Jamie Foxx). Together they share a night of crime. Along the way, Vincent passes the time with some great sarcastic humor that you'll appreciate, but Max doesn't. COLLATERAL is no comedy, but it sure can be funny at times. It's definitely a thriller, but one with something of a pacing problem. Sometimes the two guys in the cab appear to be more interested in killing time than people, and the movie features too much dead air when nothing much is happening.

The real delight in COLLATERAL is soaking up Cruise's acting. He is so terrific in the part that you'll be thinking of another actor (Denzel Washington) used to playing good guys who turned evil in TRAINING DAY to great critical acclaim. I doubt if the critics will go gaga over Cruise's work the way they did over Washington's, however. Cruise is quite good but we are not talking Oscar.

The compelling story reaches its zenith in the long last act. Although twice needlessly telegraphed, the somewhat predictable conclusion is still satisfying.

COLLATERAL runs 1:59. It is rated R for "violence and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave the film *** 1/2. He really enjoyed the film's high action and the acting by both Cruise and Foxx. He thought the movie was slower than the trailers made it seem, and he didn't like its grainy look. [It was shot on high definition digital video.]

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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