Collateral is a 2004 American neo-noir action thriller film directed and produced by Michael Mann from a script by Stuart Beattie and starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. The supporting cast includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Javier Bardem, and Bruce McGill. It follows Max, a Los Angeles cab driver and his customer Vincent. When offered a high fare for driving to several locations, Max agrees but soon finds himself taken hostage by Vincent who turns out to be a hitman on a contract killing spree.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
|Written by||Stuart Beattie|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Box office||$220.9 million|
Screenwriter Beattie first conceived the idea for the film when taking a taxicab home from Sydney airport. Beattie shared the idea with producer Julie Richardson, who showed it to director Frank Darabont. The film was pitched to HBO but was declined. It was purchased by DreamWorks but would not see development for three years. Before the trio of Mann, Cruise and Foxx joined the film, Mimi Leder, Janusz Kamiński and Fernando Meirelles were each considered as director, and Russell Crowe and Adam Sandler were in talks to star as Vincent and Max, respectively. Filming primarily took place throughout Los Angeles, and was the first feature film to be shot with a Viper FilmStream High-Definition Camera. The musical score was composed by James Newton Howard, with additional songs from Audioslave and Paul Oakenfold.
Collateral was released in the United States on August 6, 2004, and grossed $217 million worldwide. The film received critical acclaim in particular for the performances of Cruise and Foxx, Mann's direction and the editing, although the pacing and second half of the film received a mixed reception. Collateral was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2004. At the 77th Academy Awards, Foxx received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor; while film editors Jim Miller and Paul Rubell were nominated for Best Film Editing.
Max is a meticulous Los Angeles cab driver trying to earn enough to start his own limousine business. One of the evening's fares is federal prosecutor Annie Farrell, who works for the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. On the drive to her office, they strike up a conversation and Annie gives Max her business card.
Max's next fare is Vincent. Apparently impressed by Max's skill at navigating through traffic, Vincent tells Max that he is in Los Angeles for one night to complete a real estate deal, and offers Max $600 to drive him to several locations. Initially reluctant to violate regulations, Max is eventually persuaded. As Max waits at the first stop, a corpse falls onto his car; Vincent reveals himself as a hitman and the body is one of his five targets. He forces Max to hide the body in the trunk and continue driving.
At the second stop, Vincent restrains Max's hands to the steering wheel. Max asks a group of young men for help, but two of them rob him and seize Vincent's briefcase; seeing the men walk away with the briefcase, Vincent deftly shoots them both dead and retrieves the briefcase. He then offers to buy Max a drink at a jazz club. At the club, Vincent engages the owner Daniel in conversation. Vincent then reveals Daniel to have been his third target. Max pleads with Vincent to let Daniel go, causing Vincent to offer a compromise, betting Daniel cannot answer a question about where Miles Davis "learned music". Daniel states that Davis went to the Juilliard School, seemingly giving a correct answer. Vincent, suddenly, unexpectedly shoots Daniel, revealing that Miles Davis dropped out of Juilliard to be mentored by Charlie Parker.
Max's boss Lenny, who has been hectoring him over the radio, tells Max his mother Ida called. Learning of Max's nightly visits to the hospital to see his mother, Vincent insists that Max proceed with the visit. At the hospital, Ida proudly tells Vincent that Max has his own limousine company, revealing Max has been lying to her.
Overwhelmed, Max leaves, stealing Vincent's briefcase, and hurls it onto a freeway where it is destroyed by a passing truck. With the information on his last two targets destroyed, Vincent coerces Max to meet drug lord Felix Reyes-Torrena to re-obtain the information. Max, posing as Vincent, acquires the information but Felix orders his men to kill "Vincent" if he does not complete the job.
Max heads with Vincent to a nightclub, seeking the next target, Peter Lim. Narcotics detective Ray Fanning uncovers a connection between the three victims and reports his finding to FBI agent Frank Pedrosa. Pedrosa identifies the victims as witnesses in a federal grand jury indicting Reyes-Torrena the following day. At the nightclub, Vincent kills Felix's hitmen, Lim, and his bodyguards. Fanning rescues Max and smuggles him outside, but Vincent fatally shoots him and coerces Max back into the cab.
Following their getaway, the two trade insulting summaries of each other's personalities and choices in life. After a heated exchange, Max deliberately crashes the cab, but both survive, and Vincent escapes. A police officer arrives. Seeing the corpse in the trunk, he tries to arrest Max. However, Max notices Vincent's open laptop, revealing that his final target is Annie. He overpowers the police officer, takes his gun, and rushes toward Annie's office building.
Stealing a bystander's phone, Max uses Annie's business card to call and warn her. She is incredulous until Max reveals details about Vincent's previous victims, urging her to call 911. Vincent steals the security guard's gun and uses a fire axe to cut the power and telephone lines on Annie's floor. Vincent finds Annie but is shot and wounded by Max, who escapes with Annie on foot. Vincent pursues the pair onto a metro rail train. Cornered on the train, Max engages Vincent in a sudden shootout; both men empty their handguns at each other. Vincent, fatally wounded, slumps into a seat, repeating a story about a man dying unnoticed on a Metro train. Max and Annie get off at the next station in the dawn of a new day.
- Tom Cruise as Vincent
- Jamie Foxx as Max Durocher
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie Farrell
- Mark Ruffalo as Ray Fanning
- Peter Berg as Richard Weidner
- Bruce McGill as Frank Pedrosa
- Irma P. Hall as Ida Durocher
- Barry Shabaka Henley as Daniel Baker
- Klea Scott as Zee
- Javier Bardem as Felix Reyes-Torrena
- Emilio Rivera as Paco
- Thomas Rosales, Jr. as Ramon Ayala
- Inmo Yuon as Peter Lim
- Jason Statham as the Airport Man
- Angelo Tiffe as Sylvester Clarke
- Paul Adelstein as Fed
When he was 17 years old, Australian writer Stuart Beattie took a cab home from Sydney airport and had the idea of a homicidal maniac sitting in the back of a cab with the driver nonchalantly conversing with him, trusting his passenger implicitly. Beattie drafted his idea into a two-page treatment titled "The Last Domino", then later began writing the screenplay. The original story centered around an African-American female cop who witnesses a hit, and the romance between the cab driver and his then librarian girlfriend. The final film has limited resemblance to the original treatment. Beattie was waiting tables when he came in to contact with Julie Richardson, whom he had met on a UCLA Screenwriting Extension course. Richardson had become a producer and was searching for projects for Frank Darabont, Rob Fried and Chuck Russell's company, Edge City, which was created to make low budget genre movies for HBO. Beattie later pitched her his idea of "The Last Domino." Richardson pitched the idea to Darabont, who brought the team in for a meeting, including Beattie, and set up the project under Edge City. After two drafts, HBO passed on the project. At a general meeting at DreamWorks with executive Marc Haimes, Beattie mentioned the script. Haimes immediately contacted Richardson, read the script overnight, and DreamWorks put in an offer the following day. Early drafts of Collateral's script set the film in New York City. However, later revisions of the script moved the film's setting to Los Angeles. Darabont, Fried and Russell would remain on as executive producers.
Mimi Leder and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński were attached to the project at one point as the director. Upon Russell Crowe expressing interest in playing the role of Vincent, development on the film moved forward. Crowe got his The Insider director Michael Mann involved, but after constant delays, Crowe departed the project. Mann then approached Tom Cruise with the idea of him playing Vincent and Adam Sandler in the role of Max. Sandler later dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with Spanglish and was replaced by Jamie Foxx. Beattie wanted the studio to cast Robert De Niro as Max (once again making him a taxi driver, though the exact opposite of Travis Bickle). However, the studio refused, insisting on a younger actor for the role. Cuba Gooding Jr. revealed in a 2018 interview he had turned down a part in the film due to concerns he would be miscast. Mann's reasons for casting Foxx, with whom he worked with on Ali, was that he held a similar quality in his performances to Cruise. "I saw that [quality of Tom’s] in Jamie on In Living Color — his characters were so vivid. That’s why I went after him for [cornerman] Bundini Brown in Ali. Jamie starts with mimicry, but then he talks about ”putting it into the database,” so he can access a character once he's got it down". Prior to Mann taking on the directing position, Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles had initially agreed to direct, but eventually decided to exit as the production would require him to relocate to Los Angeles for eight months. Meirelles described his vision for the film as being that of a comedy, and looked at telling it in a way similar to Martin Scorsese's After Hours. To prepare for his role, Cruise worked covertly as a FedEx deliveryman. Mann stated the goal was for Cruise to not be recognized.
Jada Pinkett Smith, cast in the role of Annie, spent time with an attorney to inform her performance. Val Kilmer was originally cast in the film as Detective Fanning, but exited to star in Oliver Stone's Alexander, resulting in Mark Ruffalo taking on the role instead. In a similar situation, Dennis Farina, initially cast as Agent Pedrosa, had to exit due to scheduling conflicts with the television series Law & Order, and was recast with Bruce McGill. Javier Bardem was cast in what was described as "a small role" at the time. Jason Statham made a small appearance in a role credited as "Airport Man". Louis Leterrier, co-director of the 2002 action film The Transporter revealed that Statham was portraying his Transporter character Frank Martin in his scene.
After three weeks of filming, cinematographer Paul Cameron left the project due to creative differences with Mann. Dion Beebe was brought on to replace Cameron. Mann chose to use the Viper FilmStream High-Definition Camera to film many of Collateral's scenes, the first such use in a major motion picture. Mann had previously used the format for portions of Ali and his CBS drama Robbery Homicide Division and would later employ the same camera for the filming of Miami Vice. The sequence in the nightclub was shot in 35 mm.
Filming took place throughout Los Angeles, with Los Angeles International Airport and Koreatown used for setpieces, and filming was also done in Pico Rivera, California. For filming of the cab crash scene, it was Foxx driving the vehicle, with Cruise in the backseat.
James Newton Howard composed the score for the film, with additional music by Antônio Pinto. The Collateral soundtrack was released on August 3, 2004, by Hip-O Records. Howard estimated that only half of the music he composed was used in the final cut of the film.
- Track listing
|2.||"The Seed (2.0)" (Extended Radio Edit)||The Roots, Cody Chesnutt||4:13|
|3.||"Hands of Time"||Groove Armada||4:19|
|5.||"Rollin' Crumblin'"||Tom Rothrock||2:21|
|6.||"Max Steals Briefcase"||James Newton Howard||1:48|
|7.||"Destino de Abril"||Green Car Motel||5:15|
|8.||"Shadow on the Sun"||Audioslave||5:43|
|9.||"Island Limos"||James Newton Howard||1:33|
|10.||"Spanish Key"||Miles Davis||2:25|
|11.||"Air on the G String"||Johann Sebastian Bach||5:46|
|12.||"Ready Steady Go (Korean style)"||Paul Oakenfold||4:48|
|13.||"Car Crash"||Antonio Pinto||2:19|
|14.||"Vincent Hops Train"||James Newton Howard||2:02|
|15.||"Finale"||James Newton Howard||2:18|
The film opened on August 6, 2004, in 3,188 theaters in the United States and Canada and grossed approximately $24.7 million on its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office. It remained in theaters for 14 weeks and eventually grossed $101,005,703 in the U.S. and Canada. In other countries, it grossed $116,758,588 for a worldwide $217,764,291.
The film received positive reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 234 reviews, with an average rating of 7.45/10. The critical consensus states that "Driven by director Michael Mann's trademark visuals and a lean, villainous performance from Tom Cruise, Collateral is a stylish and compelling noir thriller." On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 71 out of 100, based on 41 reviews.
Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post praised the film and Cruise's performance. He summarized the film as "the best kind of genre filmmaking: It plays by the rules, obeys the traditions and is both familiar and fresh at once". Roger Ebert praised the performances of Cruise and Foxx, with Ebert calling Foxx's work a "revelation". In addition to praising the performances of Cruise, Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote of Foxx's performance: "Foxx can act. He's up to the role's demands, conveying fear, confusion and frustration, but more important the exhaustion and recklessness that can easily follow when someone's been scared for so long". Desson Thomson gave similar praise to Foxx, finding the actor "quietly pries the movie from Cruise's big-marquee fingers". David Ansen of Newsweek praised the film, however he criticized the third act of the film as "generic and farfetched". Placing the film on his best of the year list, Richard Schickel of Time magazine praised the acting in addition to Mann's direction and Beattie's screenplay, despite finding logical inconsistencies in the plot and that it "does not have quite enough completely compelling incidents to sustain its considerable length".
In a mixed review, Marrit Ingman of the Austin Chronicle gave positive remarks to Mann's film-making, but stated "There’s not much substance lurking beneath all the style, though the plot digresses into several awkward scenes intended to flesh out the characters". David Edelstein of Slate magazine highlighted Foxx's performance as "terrific" and was favorable to the film's first act, but derided the rest of the film. "It’s too bad that halfway through, Collateral turns into a series of loud, chaotic, over-the-top action set pieces in which the existentialist Mann proves he’s lousy at action". Edelstein also criticized the performance of Cruise, referring to his performance as "robotic". Stephanie Zacharek of Salon magazine criticized Cruise's performance, finding that "Cruise's dignity rings stiff and false". Zacharek did praise the performance of Foxx, stating "Foxx inhabits his character so comfortably that he renders meaningless Vincent's babble about the tough, real world. Max is the one who lives in the real world, which is ultimately the point of the movie -- but it takes the picture a very long time to reach a conclusion that's evident from the start to any attuned viewer".
Richard Roeper placed Collateral as his 10th favorite film of 2004. The film was voted as the 9th best film set in Los Angeles in the last 25 years by a group of Los Angeles Times writers and editors with two criteria: "The movie had to communicate some inherent truth about the L.A. experience, and only one film per director was allowed on the list".
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