Directed by Michael Mann. Starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill. (2004, R, 127 min.)

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Aug. 6, 2004

After two more plainly prestigious projects (Ali and The Insider), Mann returns to his stock-and-trade: the glossy, kinetic crime thriller. Cruise and Foxx may be billed above the title, but the movie’s real star is Los Angeles at night – the neon-saturated streets, the promenades of palm trees, the nexus of freeways lit up with taillights. Enter Max (Foxx), a straight-arrow cabbie who picks up two fares in an evening. One is Annie (Pinkett Smith), an overworked prosecutor who slips him her card after some friendly banter. The other is Vincent (Cruise), a businessman who hires Max for the rest of the night, promising five stops and a 6am flight out of LAX. Little does he realize Vincent’s business is murder, and Max quickly becomes an unwilling accomplice. The story is leaden, but Mann’s direction is characteristically fleet, street-level, and energetic. He indulges in lavish aerial photography of the downtown high-rises and films Cruise in a jerky, handheld style (shot, it appears, digitally); the film always looks great, even when it’s not. Of particular note is a gorgeous action set-piece in a crowded nightclub tricked out with indoor waterfalls and giant video monitors. When they’re not bickering about morality or predictably teasing out each other’s backstories, the two leads are peeling out down Cahuenga to the ear-bleeding strains of Audioslave or James Newton Howard’s bombastic orchestral score. There’s not much substance lurking beneath all the style, though the plot digresses into several awkward scenes intended to flesh out the characters (Vincent is a jazz nut; Max’s mother is Irma P. Hall). You can’t fault the actors, who seem to be working at fever pitch. Mann gets a lot of mileage out of the vulpine quality underneath Cruise’s matinee-idol veneer – his seething grin, his feral physicality. Cruise and Foxx are fine in the film (though Stuart Beattie’s script banks too much on Foxx’s ability to get laughs), but there should be more of a film for them to be fine in. Ruffalo makes a dent as a dogged narcotics detective, and the Spanish superstar Javier Bardem appears as a crime boss. Overall, however, Mann seems content to play games with his fast cars, cool streets, and loud rock, leaving Collateral squarely within the action genre.

More Michael Mann Films
Chris Hemsworth stars in Michael Mann's cyber thriller.

Louis Black, Jan. 16, 2015

Public Enemies
Michael Mann's film is a human-scale biopic of the gangster folk hero John Dillinger.

Kimberley Jones, July 3, 2009

More by Marrit Ingman
Wonder Stories
Wonder Stories

July 25, 2008

King Corn
The film’s light hand, appealing style, and simple exposition make it an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food, public health, and the reasons why corn has become an ingredient in virtually everything we eat.

Nov. 9, 2007


Collateral, Michael Mann, Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)