There are a lot of reasons why people don’t like Tom Cruise, but his creepy performance in the new crime thriller ‘Collateral’ won’t be one of them. Cruise embodies the kind of villain that audiences love to hate. He’s quick, he’s charming and he seemingly has no soul, which must have been the reason why he was cast in the role of Vincent, a killer for hire who lands in Los Angeles to do five ‘jobs’ in one night. . As Vincent, Cruise settles into his evil streak and smiles his sinister grin as only a true villain can. The same spark in his eye that makes him dangerous captivates the audience who find it impossible to resist the flame.
But that’s why master storyteller and director Michael Mann put Cruise in ‘Collateral’. The audience knows he’s a bad guy, yet we can’t help but feel for Vincent as he takes a taxi ride unlike any other. As bad as it seems for Jamie Foxx’s character Max, the obsessive cab driver and the ‘Collateral’ co-star who knows as much about philosophy as he does surface streets of the city, even he eventually warms up to Cruise’s character, and finds himself evolving his views while he’s held hostage. And Max is a hostage. Make no mistake about that, even when Vincent is coaching him on how to best woo the lovely Jada Pinkett Smith, there’s a threat level there that’s easy to forget with Cruises’ smooth moves.
In ‘Collateral’, Michael Mann continues his cinematic love affair with L.A.. Picking up where he left off in movies like ‘Heat’ and the short-lived crime drama television series ‘Robbery Homicide Division’, Michael Mann takes us on a tour of L.A. that cements the idea that his city is one of his stars. ‘Collateral’ was shot only at night almost entirely with digital cameras which provide terrific results for a movie without a single computer generated character. As the night moves on into morning the color tones of the city matches ‘Collaterals’ story line, where the further Vincent goes on his killing assignments the bleaker the color quality of the scenes.
It should be said that I’m a huge fan of Michael Mann’s work, and ‘Collateral’ delivers on what he does best. Pulling an audience into a rich story full of hard crime and harder emotions that drive the characters into their abyss. Michael Mann knows how to tap into the pulse of a place and portray it onscreen as a celebrity that helps push the people who live in it around.
Alterna-movie fans may find it hard to admit their preference but their just no denying that Tom Cruise is a creep worth watching even if its from the rear view mirror of a cab. Letting the meter run until the ‘Collateral’ DVD comes out, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2004 - Purple - Air Date: 8/11/04
USA - 2004