Review – Collateral (2004)

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collateral-54eccf268258dWelcome to Assassin Week: Day 2. Today, we’re reviewing a film that I saw when it was released, but I haven’t seen since – Collateral. I’ve been meaning to revisit this film because even though I don’t think I loved it, I thought for sure that I was too young (16) to really appreciate what it was trying to say. So, I went ahead and watched it again for the week, and I can’t really say my initial response to it was wrong. Instincts, man, you gotta trust your instincts on some things. I’m now 29, and I still can’t really say I liked it. It’s a bland film full of metaphorical nonsense before getting really exciting by the third act. There’s also a random cameo by Jason Statham in the beginning.

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. – IMDb

Alright, so we start off with initial impressions. I actually like the concept of a cab driver being forced to drive around a hitman while he does his work, but I sort of hated Tom Cruise’s character. They made him unique with the gray hair angle, but I couldn’t really understand why they really needed that. On Tom Cruise, the man that can never age, it just didn’t fit him. I’m not only complaining about his appearance, though. There is no real character development for him, and we never really see what he’s up to, which makes his character so underwhelmingly bad that I’m confused as to why Tom Cruise even accepted the role. Instead, he’s just a creepy dude in the back of a van spouting off metaphorical bull to a cab driver that just wants to go on a date.

I’m all for metaphorical debates, but only in situations that ultimately make sense and welcome those debates. He made one argument that really made sense on a different level, how we are like the sky full of stars. Six billion people on the planet, who’s really going to notice when one star goes out? I did like that explanation. There was another one where he compared America being outraged when they see a stranger die, but don’t bat an eye at the travesties going on in Rwanda on a daily basis. While I do fully believe those were good points that put things into perspective, they weren’t accompanied by a compelling enough story in the film to make it worthwhile.

So, those were simply my first impressions. Let’s break it down and see where the film went wrong and went right. Let’s interpret the stars.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 7/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1

First up, we have the people category, which received only 7/10 stars. Nothing seemed wrong with the acting. Everyone seemed to be doing what they were supposed to be doing there. When it comes to the characters, though, it’s weird. We have a mix/mash of good and bad. While I do think Tom Cruise’s role in this film is highly memorable, I think it’s just because he has gray hair. There’s nothing special or unique enough about his role for anyone to really remember. The rest of the cast is mostly forgettable, even though there are some nice faces strewn throughout. The casting itself only got a one because I think the cast they have was okay, but I’m pretty sure anyone could have at least played Tom Cruise’s character without a hitch. I’m thinking maybe DiCaprio. That being said, everyone seemed to all have their own reasons to be there which added to the plot, which was more woven together than you might think, so it has good importance, but no one really had the best chemistry. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith in another film, though.

WRITING SCORE – 8/10
Dialogue – 2|Balance – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 2|Interesting – 1

Next up, we have the writing category, which received a slightly higher score than people. Why? Well, let’s investigate. I would say two-thirds of the film has a lot of theoretical and metaphorical discussions, so a big focus in the film was undoubtedly the dialogue, so that gets full points. It also follows one concurrent story from beginning to end, so that means the movie is well balanced. I also can’t really say I’ve seen anything like the film, so that makes it original. Now, I don’t really consider it fully interesting and the story itself is a bit weak, but the category was still scored rather high regardless.

BTS SCORE – 5/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 0

Alrighty, so we all know a big part of a film is what goes on behind-the-scenes. So, what we have here is a pretty low score for that part of the film, but why? Well, I hardly consider it a very visually appealing film. Most of the film is dealt with during nighttime, and nothing really shouts great-looking shots. As far as the directing and editing is considered, everything there seemed as if there wasn’t really a big challenge. Most of it was inside of the cab, and the stuff outside of the cab didn’t really impress me. I would call it as-advertised, but I didn’t like the music. Not liking the music choices is rare for me, but there was moments in the movie where I thought…this song doesn’t make sense…like a weird trippy montage that makes no sense to me…more metaphorical nonsense, I guess.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction -2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 0

Ah yes, the savior of almost all of my reviews, the narrative arc, which is the easiest category to get full points in. In this case, it only missed one subcategory, so the score is still high. The introduction actually tells you everything you need to know about the film before Tom Cruise enters the cab, which I actually thought was neat. We then see Tom Cruise enter the cab and our inciting incident is born.  The obstacles really come down to all the stops Foxx is forced to make in the night, and there is a very perfect climax that included an epiphany moment. There wasn’t any falling action, though. There was no new norm, there really wasn’t much of anything. So even though there wasn’t any falling action, everything else was in place.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 2/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 0

And with every positive reaction, there is always an equally negative reaction to go along with it. The narrative arc may be the easiest category to get points in, but the entertainment category is the hardest one to impress, and you can see why. I didn’t really consider this film entertaining. I gave it half points for rewatchability because I did rewatch it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. I also thought the tail end of the film was super exciting and fun, but the rest of the movie isn’t. So in the end, I had no impulse to buy it, to own it, to talk about it, and it never really sucked me in…so as far as entertainment goes, it has its moments, but not many.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 25/50
Assassin Week – 5|Tom Cruise – 0|Thriller – 05|Drama – 10|Halfway Decent – 5

Onto the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the movie. For Assassin week, how did this film do? Well, it is about an assassin, but there are so many better movies out there about them that if asked, I highly doubt I’d even mention it. This is also a Tom Cruise film, how is it on his roster? Honestly, I’m pretty sure every other film of his is better than this one. The only Tom Cruise-y thing he did was sprint. It is also listed as a thriller, and it is a thriller…sort of. I didn’t really feel thrilled until the tail end, so I don’t consider full points. It’s listed as a drama as well, and drama it definitely is. Full points there. Finally, we ask if it is halfway decent. Truthfully, I don’t think the end result is ultimately what the creator wanted from the film. They needed something with a full package, and they only got bits and pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. So for that, I give it half points.

TOTAL – 55/100

 

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