At heart, Collateral is just pumped-up B-grade noir, but, with Michael Mann at the helm, it’s still chic, solid filmmaking. Assassin Max (Cruise) wants cab driver Vincent (Foxx) to ferry him from one target to the next in the course of a single night. Their fates snarl and tauten when Max decides to take matters (and his life) into his own hands, especially after Max’s sweetie-pie, Annie (Pinkett Smith), finds herself in Max’s crosshairs. To criticize it for not being more sophisticated would be missing the point and, for that matter, the fun. Collateral — like all Mann movies — has an uncanny sensory dimension; try to catch it at night, then take a walk outside because the movie startlingly approximates, through its visual and sound textures, what “night” actually looks, sounds, and even feels like — especially a night in Los Angeles. Foxx and Cruise are both excellent and, while the plot is stale, creaky in the worst B-movie sense, especially in how it tries to throw together lawyer Annie’s fate into these tortuous high jinks, Mann’s mastery at the helm keeps the viewer riveted. Enjoy it for what a Mann film offers: urban sophistication, top-grade performances and, in spite of this one’s somewhat boneheaded plot turns, a respectable measure of intelligence and cinematic acumen.

Grade: A-

Directed by: Michael Mann
Written by: Stuart Beattie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Javier Bardem


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