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Collateral /

Rated: R

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg

Directed by: Michael Mann

Produced by: Michael Mann, Walter F. Parkes
Written by:
Stuart Beattie
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG

 

Tom Cruise in DreamWorks' Collateral
Jamie Foxx in DreamWorks' Collateral
Jada Pinkett-Smith in DreamWorks' Collateral

A Conversation with Max

 

[I open the yellow cabís door. Sitting in the driverís seat is a man who strangely looks like Jamie Foxx. No, it couldnít be. Why the hell would an actor want to drive a cab? Oh, well. I sit down.]

 

MAX: Where to, sir?

DANNY: Take me as far as you can go.

MAX: Which way?

DANNY: Letís try east. You know, go against Feng-Shui, for a change.

MAX: Whatever floats your boat.

DANNY: Are you Jamie Foxx?

MAX: I wish I was.

DANNY: You look awfully familiar.

MAX: Actually, he played me in a movie once.

DANNY: You mean Collateral?

MAX: Yeah, that one.

DANNY: It just came out this weekend.

MAX: Oh, well, I donít got the money to see the thing. I donít follow the cinema release date schedule like itís the back of my hand.

DANNY: You follow the back of your hand?

MAX: What?

DANNY: Nevermind.

MAX: Ooookay.

DANNY: You must make enough for a movie ticket, in this job. Maybe not the popcorn, though. Can anyoneís pocketbook really handle a few kernels with butter, nowadays?

MAX: Actually, Iím trying to start up a business. This is only temporary. Gotta save my dollars.

DANNY: Oh? A limo company? Just like in the movie?

MAX: No, a strip club.

DANNY: Oh.

MAX: Iím just playiní. Yeah, a limo company. People will never want to get out of my limos. Their insides will be like paradise.

DANNY: So, how long have you been doing this?

MAX: Thirteen years, itís only temporary.

DANNY: Oh, in the movie itís twelve.

MAX: Thatís probably because they filmed it a year ago.

DANNY: I hear Ďya. So, did you really become a hostage to a crazy guy one night and have to drive him around and aid him in covering up his murders?

 

[Max turns up the music (soul, of course) on the radio, so our conversation cannot be heard by any of the other drivers on the nearly vacant nighttime road.]

 

MAX: Yes, indeed. He was one crazy mothafucka. Excuse my language, please, sir.

DANNY: Was he anything like Tom Cruise?

MAX: He looked a bit like him; kinda similar to a weasel.

DANNY: But, did he act the same?

MAX: Nah. Tommy seems to be goiní crazy lately with his role choice. I was laughing my ass off when I saw him in that Samurai suit in that crazy Japanese movie.

DANNY: Yeah, The Last Samurai. I liked that a lot, actually, despite the cornball factor. I thought you said that you didnít go to the movies.

MAX: I do when they have Tom Cruise in them, playing a Samurai.

DANNY: So, you liked it?

MAX: Nah. He needed to be killed at the end.

DANNY: Wouldnít that ruin the heroicness of it all?

MAX: So what? At least he gets killed. And no Tom Cruise is better than a Tom Cruise.

DANNY: Why? Donít you think heís a good actor? You seem to hate him as much as the guy who took over your cab that night.

MAX: I do. Heís not a good actor. Heís terrible, in fact. How was the movie? Was he somehow bizarrely good in it?

DANNY: Yeah, he was, but I normally like him. And Jamie Foxx was great, as you, too.

MAX: HmmmÖmaybe I should go and see it; it is about me and all.

DANNY: Go to a cheap showing, though. Itís nowhere near.

MAX: Why? Did that Michael Mann guy destroy it or something? I dug The Insider. That was one of his, right?

DANNY: Yeah, it was. And he directs Collateral with undeniable flair. His music selection, in correlation with his cameraís coloration, is phenomenal, too. Just like with Stacy Peraltaís recent surfer movie, Riding Giants. I think he did a tremendous jobóone of his better onesóthe style is flowing. The movie doesnít add up, though.

MAX: Why not?

DANNY: The writing is either incredibly bland and boring or preposterous and ridiculous, at nearly every point in the picture. Stuart Beattie, who put together the script, doesnít know how to keep us interested or engaged. For awhile, the taxi-talk between your character and another is entertaining, but it wears on us, quickly. And then, during the climax, the whole thing becomes some kind of atrocious rip-off of Action Movie A.

MAX: Yeah, it sometimes becomes quite a snoozer in this cab. His depiction of the job, itself, is probably pretty realistic. But what happens in the climax?

DANNY: Tom Cruise is basically invincible and your character runs around and protects his newfound crush of sorts. She works as a lawyer, but both of you are having a hard time getting away from the enemy; youíre certainly still in his clutches. His gun remains in his hand, but your will to survive is abundant in every frame. It may be heart-pounding, but the material is just so stupid, thereís nothing to really admire, besides Mannís work, in such scenes.

MAX: In real life, I got stuck with a guy like Tommyís character, but I got away after one of his kills. That was the climax. End of story. And I certainly didnít run into any woman of my liking.

DANNY: Well, they clearly ripped your story off, then.

MAX: Why didnít they depict me as a simple driver, and engage the audience in some interesting dialogue regarding my nightly travels, or something to that effect?

DANNY: Well, thatíd kind of be a rip off of Abbas Kiarostamiís Ten.

MAX: Abba, what, who?

DANNY: An Iranian filmmaker. He made a movie, comprised of ten different shorts about taxi-cab rides.

MAX: Yeah; I donít watch too much foreign stuff. None at all, in fact.

DANNY: Thatís too bad.

MAX: So, should I see Collateral, or not?

DANNY: Yeah. I guess so. A rental would probably do it justice, but it wouldnít make a bad night at the movies, in the least. For two hours, it manages to be watchable and somewhat respectable.

MAX: I will do as you say, commander!

DANNY: Aw, címon, Iím not that torturous to converse with, am I?

MAX: No, no. Not at all. [Heís speaking sarcastically, of course.]

DANNY: You can let me out here; thanks for the ride.

MAX: You want to be dropped off in East LA?

DANNY: Sure, why not?

MAX: Maybe the movie is great and youíre just a wacko. You sure are showing it, now. Oh, well.

DANNY: Hereís a tip.

MAX: Thanks.

 

[After I exit the vehicle, he speeds away through the alley, and I take a seat at a nearby bench and look at the dark sky, pondering why Michael Mann, Jamie Foxx, and Tom Cruise chose to star in a movie like Collateral. Mark Ruffalo, who is always great as a cop, even seems out of place here. I wonder if Max will like it, status-quo. He seems to be one hell of an interesting guy. But, ultimately, just another cool person wasted on a lukewarm movie.]

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (8.7.2004)


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