At Last, the Nice Guy Wins
Release Date: August 06, 2004
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Rating: R for violence and language
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG
Director: Michael Mann
Producer: Michael Mann and Julie Richardson
Writer: Stuart Beattie
Address Comments To:David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg
1000 Flower Street
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone: (818) 695-5000
Vincent commandeers Max and his cab to go on his Los Angeles killing spree. When the first body lands on Max’s cab, Max realizes what’s happening and wants out, but Vincent is too fast and literally holds him hostage. Meanwhile, the police are hot on the trail of the killings, and the federal agents have been investigating the drug dealer that they’re brining to trial and are naturally upset that their witnesses are being murdered.
Everything comes to a head with the last target – a U.S. attorney named Annie, with whom Max had a special rapport when he drove her in his cab. Max fights valiantly to rescue her before Vincent can kill her.
This is not a complex plot, but it is well executed. It exposes deep character flaws in each man. The psychological insights into Max and Vincent are superb and touching. Max is a nice guy who finally has to stand up for his rights. He does so with strength, courage and compassion at the end. Vincent is a killer who thinks that people are just accidental specks in the universe. He’s doing his job killing these worthless people, and he won’t let anybody get in the way. As the night progresses, however, he starts to develop a rapport with Max, and that rapport throws Vincent off his game.
The acting, direction, production, casting, and lighting in COLLATERAL are all in harmony. This is a movie that works as a whole. On the downside, it is a very violent crime drama. In spite of the fact that Vincent is a point-blank, mean-spirited contract killer, the audience develops a bond with him, sometimes even rooting for him. After all, he just has a job to do.
Director Michael Mann (HEAT and LAST OF THE MOHICANS), using a script by relative newcomer Stuart Beattie, keeps the audience on the edge of this love-hate relationship with Vincent and Max all the way to the end. Sophisticated, older audiences may be able to tolerate this tension, but younger audiences may buy into the wrong conclusions about this movie, such as thinking contract killing is a worthy profession where you can make big money for a simple job. Vincent's lifestyle is rebuked soundly, but with a very fine point, at the very end.
The further downside to the movie is a surplus of foul language, from profanities to obscenities. Amazingly, there is no sex or nudity in the movie; even the club dancing scene is very mild. There is nothing salacious. The federal agents, however, are shown to be weak, and the good policeman does not survive.
COLLATERAL is one of the best made movies of the summer, but it demands extreme caution.
This is not a complex plot, but it is well executed. It exposes deep character flaws in each man. Max is a nice guy who finally has to stand up for his rights. He does so with strength, courage and compassion at the end. The acting, direction, production, and lighting are all in harmony, so this is a movie that works as a whole. On the downside, COLLATERAL is a very violent crime drama with a surplus of foul language. COLLATERAL is a well made movie, but seeing it demands extreme caution.