That said, Collateral has a very solid reputation as one of his best, and while it does indeed justify the couple hours you will need to spend with Scientology’s pre-eminent export, it is hardly the all time classic some make it out to be.
Max (Jamie Foxx) is a streetsmart taxi driver with aspirations of being his own boss in a ‘getaway’ themed limo, something he tells his latest fare, attractive young lawyer Annie (Jada Pinkett) in a lengthy ongoing conversation that sounds entirely different from every taxi based conversation that I have ever been party to.
Max’s next client is even more unlikely; in Vincent (Tom Cruise) the crack assassin, Max not only has his schedule for the entire evening booked out, but he gets an evening with the world’s chattiest assassin, and a man who effortlessly blends any environment by wearing sunglasses indoors. At night. With the lights on but hardly emanating dangerous levels of UV light. Vincent is so not low key that he does everything short of pose for pics and sign autographs.
Of course this doesn’t help the police fronted by Mark Ruffalo, because even though they quickly identify a pattern in the killings they can do little more than flounder along behind in the wake of the least subtle paid killer on film. Heat, this ain’t…
After an initial bang and crash Max ferries old Toofy around to five stops, most of them resulting in another body, with the chat in between covering some especially meaningful topics as these two gents of different backgrounds and occupations seek to find common ground.
The strength of Collateral is actually the star power, even though I am not a great fan of either. Mainly because they are rendered bearable by deadening their trademark characteristics, Cruise his (incredibly forced) boyish charm and Foxx his (incredibly forced) party-guy shtick. By playing down their attributes, they draw the easily pleased crowd but don’t alienate viewers already tired of their blatant constant self promotion.
Collateral has moments but none that transcend the genre. The acting is OK, the plot twists competent and industry standard and the action mediocre. It is nearly harpooned by a sequence in which a taxi driver must convince a room of hardened killers that he is in fact the most mysterious and capable paid killer, but even that egregious misjudgement cannot kill the film.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Here is a film that Tom Cruise haters can enjoy, but even his best films of the last couple decades are barely worth it.