August 7, 2004 [Collateral]

Collateral is a digital movie down to its murder-countdown, the hit man's targets lined up on a night that's long but not long enough as Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx do slick-movie-star shtick as precise as 1s and 0s streaming from life to video to computer to screen.  Michael Mann is L.A.'s colorist, the city smudged green and as shiny as chrome, as teeth bearing down on an In-N-Out burger at midnight wolfed down before the next burst of self-assured gunfire sends them further down the line.

Tom Cruise has never looked so blandly perfect--and good for him: His eyes and mouth are still a boy's, and he knows it; he works on them like a master jeweler cracking a diamond into money in the bank.  His hit man, Vincent, reminds me of Cary Grant in North by Northwest: confident that he looks like himself, a famous guy showing up all of a sudden in a train or the back of a cab--Jamie Foxx's, also deep in his own motion picture groove, both of them as cool as the jazz Vincent loves.  Mann once more presses his case for the crime picture, and together the three of them just about close it.


  1. This film has one of my favorite looks. The dead of city night appeared appropriately bright. Maybe not "bright," but "lit." Not many films have been able to capture that. Other films tend to reflect the tone of the film with their presentation of cities, the sepia tone of Once Upon a Time in America, the blue filter in Payback, the endless rain in Seven. Only this film (that I can think of) showed the city almost as perfectly as if you saw it with your own eyes and then sent you sightseeing with two charismatic movie stars.

  2. I agree, Aaron--especially on re-viewing it for this blog. My recollection was of the charisma--good word--of the leads; but this time I was struck by Mann's use of digital video and the sheen it gave things.


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