Top 365 Films – #024 – Collateral (2004)

Top 365 Films - Tom Cruise in CollateralDIRECTED BY: Michael Mann

STARRING: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Irma P. Hall, Barry Shabaka Henley, Richard T. Jones, Klea Scott, Bodhi Elfman, Debi Mazar, Javier Bardem, Emilio Rivera, Jamie McBride, Thomas Rosales Jr., Inmo Yuon, Jason Statham and Angelo Tiffe

BUDGET: $65m

EARNED (Worldwide): $217.7m

AWARDS: BAFTA for Best Cinematography



A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.


Collateral places us in Los Angeles where we follow taxi driver Max Durocher living his daily life, which is operating in his taxi, day in and day out for the last twelve years with his only escape from this routine is taking a vacation to a tropical island, which he imagines as he looks upon a photo of it in his taxi, and dreaming that one day he’ll start up his own limo company. On this particularly day after dropping off an attorney named Annie Ferrell at her stop, he picks up a fare that will change his life as this particular person only known as Vincent is an assassin that needs to make five stops and puts Max on a night that he’ll never forget.


There’s polarising opinions in regards to Michael Mann’s filmography (in terms of hits and misses) but one thing is for certain that everyone can agree on…his films are absolutely beautifully shot. Collateral is probably his best looking film in regards to cinematography (A tremendous job by Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron here), especially in how they shoot Los Angeles at night and with the way the taxi scenes between Max and Vincent from the outside view looking in, which could be argued hasn’t been matched till the recent Dan Gilroy film Nightcrawler.From the opening encounter between Max and and US Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell establishes a genuinely engaging conversation between the two as they open themselves up to stranger, with Annie admitting to being nervous the night before a big case in which she fears she’s screw it up, whilst Max admits to dreaming of starting his own limo company. They like each other, though Max is reluctant to act on this impulse to get at least her number….though she leaves him her business card. The character progression of Max’s reluctancy to act on what he wants to do is questioned by Vincent as he enters the equation, even though he at times helps him out in small matter as they pass philosophical views and even takes on his boss on one occasion over how he treats Max. Vincent himself is a focused assassin who has his own views on how life works and sees his job as exactly that, an occupation. Tom Cruise is incredibly convincing as the villainous Vincent and Jamie Foxx more than holds his own as Max, with a well rounded supporting cast with Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie and Mark Ruffalo as LAPD Detective Ray Fanning who believes the scenario of the killings going on tonight is more than it seems. Well scripted, acted and I rather enjoy the one line that is used in the end to reference back to an earlier scene, like an old school crime film.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The nightclub sequence where the police arrive to protect a target on Vincent’s list, believing that Max is the one committing the killings so they’re aiming to take him down while Vincent does his best to not only take out his target, but keep Max alive in the process. It’s tremendously well shot and edited together, in the best shootout nightclub sequence that hasn’t been rivalled…till some could argue that nightclub shootout sequence in John Wick.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: Max: You killed him?

Vincent: No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.’

DID YOU KNOW?: According to Michael Mann, Vincent is one that is able to get in and out of anywhere without anyone recognizing him or remembering him. To prepare for the movie, Tom Cruise had to make FedEx deliveries in a crowded LA market without anyone recognizing him as Tom Cruise. Jason Statham’s cameo is often regarded as a nod to his character Frank Martin from The Transporter (2002) and its sequels. He delivers a bag to Vincent at the airport and then disappears, no questions asked. Tom Cruise really fell when he stepped on the office chair. Michael Mann liked the anomaly so much that he left it in the film. Australian Stuart Beattie was only 17 when he took a cab home from Sydney airport. It was on that cab ride that he had the idea of a homicidal maniac sitting in the back of a cab with the driver nonchalantly entering into conversation with him, trusting his passenger implicitly. Beattie drafted his idea into a two-page treatment. Later, when he was enrolled at Oregon State University, he fleshed it out into his first screenplay. Entitled “The Last Domino”, he put the script away, taking it out occasionally for revisions and rewrites over the following years.


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