Picture This! Reviews Collateral


Reprinted from

Tom Cruise is a superstar, Jamie Foxx is funny, and Jada Pinkett Smith is hot but you forget all that once the theatre goes dark and Collateral takes you for a ride. (Okay, you don’t really forget Jada’s hot).

Los Angeles is not necessarily a pretty city in the traditional sense. It’s too sprawling, too disconnected, too crowded. The only time I was ever awed by the look of the city was at night when the airplane pilot would announce we “are starting our approach” and we were thirty minutes away from the airport. Lights sparkled below as far as the eye could see in every direction and the brown smog, so disgusting during the daylight hours, was hidden by blackness. In Collateral, director Michael Mann makes LA look slick.

Filmed in HiDef, the crispness of the digital format adds a subtle edginess to this thriller. The picture looks slick and sounds slick (with a score by James Newton Howard). Even the dialogue is appropriately slick, as opposed to contrived like other so called thrillers. Stuart Beattie’s script works because his dialogue is true to character.

Vincent (Cruise) looks like a business man with deadlines in silk gray suit with graying hair and black briefcase. When taxi driver Max (Foxx) is given an offer he can’t refuse, the ride of his life begins.

Foxx’s performance is flawless. It isn’t easy to drive a cab (in real life or in the movies) and Foxx makes it interesting, whether flirting with Pinkett Smith, driving the 105, or negotiating with Cruise. When Max has to get out of the cab and pretend to be Vincent to save his life, the words are terrifyingly believable.

But there are two people taking this ride and Cruise’s performance takes a backseat to no one. The boy next door playing evil works. Not that Cruise is the boy next door anymore but he is the star with the winning smile and that alone has carried him through thousands of feet of film. But his Vincent is one cold dude and Cruise shares the screen with grace down to the final cut.

Combine Beattie’s script with Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron’s cinematography, and a cast willing to give and take for the good of the picture and you get Collateral. Michael Mann delivers a taxi ride you won’t soon forget.

Rebecca Redshaw is the Arts& Entertainment Critic for She can be reached at