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Vincent is a cool, calculating contract killer at the top of his game. Max is a cabbie with big dreams and little to show for it. Now, Max has to transport Vincent on his next job - one night, five stops, five hits and a getaway. And after this fateful night, neither man will ever be the same again. Tonight everything is changing...
For more about Collateral and the Collateral Blu-ray release, see Collateral Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 30, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, Bruce McGill
Director: Michael Mann (I)
» See full cast & crew
Collateral Blu-ray Review
Michael Mann's 'Collateral' isn't damaged goods.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 30, 2010
He may not fall into the same grouping in which the Spielbergs, Camerons, Scorseses, and Tarantinos of the world reside, but Director Michael Mann has made one heck of a name for himself around the Hollywood landscape and is widely regarded as one of the finest Action/Drama helmsman around town, his films always exceptionally-crafted, wonderfully acted, and painstakingly real in feel. Of the three, he's perhaps best known for the attention to detail in his films, particularly in his ability to make his environments into characters and lend realism to gunfights that aren't glamorized but instead based on realistic tactics, scenarios, and training. As was the case in Heat -- the picture widely regarded as Mann's crowning achievement -- his 2004 Thriller Collateral boasts a first-class story, fantastic acting, and a sense of realism that's rarely found in Hollywood; the picture may be escapist entertainment at its core, but Mann ensures through a gritty tone and plausible scenarios that the film never drifts all that far into fantasy land and maintains a carefully-executed balance between placing the audience in the middle of a frightful night in Los Angeles and creating a tense but fun and entertaining atmosphere.
It began as just another night in the life of Los Angeles cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx, Law Abiding Citizen), until he meets the beautiful young prosecutor Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith, Reign Over Me) who sees in him more than a cab driver and marvels at his politeness and big dreams to one day run his own upscale limousine service, ultimately extending a hand of friendship and the possibility of something more at the end of her ride. Max's next fare is Vincent (Tom Cruise, War of the Worlds) who offers Max several hundred dollars in exchange for taking him to five stops and, finally, to the airport to catch an early-morning flight. Max begrudgingly accepts the offer and thinks little else of it -- until a body falls from several stories and on top of his cab during Vincent's first stop. Max soon learns that Vincent is a hit man with a list of five targets that he must eliminate before the sun comes up, beginning a night of violence-ridden terror as the unassuming cabbie is forced to become part of a deadly game that he's neither mentally nor emotionally fit to handle, all the while local and federal authorities close in on him and threaten to add yet another layer of danger to an already blood-soaked night.
Michael Mann's Collateral is a movie that feels as spacious as Los Angeles itself, but also seems as cramped and tight as a single taxicab. His expert direction consistently makes the audience feel like a tagalong member alongside Max and Vincent as they traverse the City of Angels in pursuit of Vincent's targets, and Mann's stunning photography of the city and his ability to precisely frame the occupants of the cab for both dramatic and realistic effect give Collateral a unique feel that positively engulfs the audience into the worlds depicted in the film. What's more, Mann -- with guidance from Stuart Beattie's (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) excellent script -- is able to make both characters infinitely relatable, even the cold, calculated, and deadly Vincent who seems like he could be a nice guy when there's not a hit list in his briefcase and a .45 in his holster. Mann and Beattie make Vincent a hard-nosed killer but also give him a semblance of a heart and soul, but it's clear from the get-go which is the dominant trait and which is the long-since buried attribute that only manages to sneak out for a shot of decency a few times per night. Nevertheless, it's Foxx's character that becomes the de facto audience member in the film; an everyman with big dreams but -- at first, anyway -- without the fortitude and wherewithal to handle the situation into which he's thrust, Max represents the unlikely hero who, while gaining confidence and ability along the way, never becomes anything more than the sum of what he was before Vincent sat down in the backseat of his cab.
Though its script is magnificent and its direction smooth, Collateral ultimately works thanks to a pair of uncanny performances from leads Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise, each of whom positively sink into their roles and lend the final push towards realism that makes the movie such a wonderful experience. Firstly, their performances are reflective of Mann's instance on lending as much depth and realism to the picture as possible; Tom Cruise, through extensive firearms training in preparation for the part, demonstrates exceptional pistol-handling and gunfighting skills throughout the film, while Jamie Foxx manages to capture a wonderful balance between a frightened everyman and an individual that ultimately chooses to fight for what he believes, his wonderful performance earning him a much-deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Beattie's script gives both characters sharp and honest dialogue; Foxx in particular handles the material marvelously, a scene featuring him thrust into posing as Vincent sees him turn on a dime between innocent and tough, part of which stems from a survival mechanism, another from his crash-course in how to cary oneself in Vincent's line of work. Foxx devours the scene and indeed the entire script, and the result is a movie that sees pitch-perfect chemistry between its lead characters, even if they're on opposite sides of the cab, the law, and more importantly, the moral compass.
Collateral Blu-ray, Video Quality
Collateral earns a wonderful Blu-ray transfer from Paramount. This 1080p, 2.40:1-framed image, comprised of about 85% digital footage (per Michael Mann in one of the supplemental features), looks marvelous on Blu-ray. Viewers will indeed note the presence of heavy noise in many scenes that's resultant from the digital photography, particularly evident in lower-light shots. Nevertheless, Paramount's Blu-ray boasts an exceptionally strong color palette that sometimes takes a slight turn towards a slight green tint, but the many hues -- primarily Max's red and yellow cab and the numerous neon signs seen throughout Los Angeles -- sparkle against the darker backdrops. Even Vincent's gray suit and hair are meticulously rendered, and the result is an image that's consistently vibrant even through the nighttime shoot. Fine detail is breathtakingly meticulous as well in some places, but a bit mushy and soft in others; most every close-up scene fares well in revealing pores in faces, lines in clothing, or the textures of various surfaces inside Max's cab even through the thick bouts of noise, but it's in the film's better-lit locales -- the interior of a hospital or under the bright lights of a gas station -- that details truly sparkle and the Blu-ray boasts a practically faultless image that's made of some of the finer detailing and depth to be found on any disc. Flesh tones are generally neutral but reflective of the various lighting conditions, and blacks are mostly stable and true though several scenes seem to waver between a detail-aborbing shade and a slightly washed-out look. Though there's an obvious digital sheen to much of the movie, it nevertheless looks splendid, and Paramount's Blu-ray release of Collateral has faithfully and meticulously preserved Michael Mann's vision for the movie.
Collateral Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Collateral's Blu-ray features a steady, sometimes intense, and always wonderfully pristine DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Though not the most powerful, prodigious, or immersive listen, Collateral boasts strong clarity and a fine support structure that makes it a rather seamless listen. Listeners will note pleasant ambience throughout the film, whether the hustle-and-bustle of a busy airport in one of the movie's opening scenes or the general din of Los Angeles streets that's defined by honking horns, squeaking brakes, and other sounds of the big city. Never overpowering but nicely inserted so as to create a fairly strong atmosphere, the surround channels work predominantly as a support structure for the film rather than as a source of a deluge of discrete information. Nevertheless, the back channels do enjoy several spurts of more intense action, particularly during the "Club Fever" sequence as heard in chapter 16 as dance beats, the general din of the club, and a pulsating low end spill from every speaker and effectively place the listener on the floor. Smoother Jazz sounds from a posh L.A. night club or the various pieces of James Newton Howard's (I Am Legend) fine score are all delivered with impeccable clarity in every scene and through the entire range. Additionally, the film features several spurts of gunfire with each shot ringing out with a powerful authority, whether heard outdoors in the "is that my briefcase, homey?" scene or later in the aforementioned "Club Fever" shootout; each shot features a potent low end and a sharp thud, not to mention a good sense of echoing through the streets in the exterior shots. Rounded out by seamless dialogue reproduction, Collateral's DTS soundtrack delivers a fine listening experience.
Collateral Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Paramount's Blu-ray release of Collateral delivers a fine selection of bonus materials, the collection headlined by a commentary track with Director Michael Mann. Mann delivers a quality track, speaking on the his attraction to the project, its structure, character traits, shooting locations, the advantages of employing digital photography for the movie, differences between the script and the final film, L.A.'s ethnic communities, scene construction, the thematic elements of the picture, Tom Cruise's combat training, and plenty more. He sometimes describes the on-screen action, but does so as a means of reinforcing ideas or better describing the hows and whys behind a scene rather than as an excuse to fill airtime. Mann delivers a strong track that never becomes superfluous or dull; fans of the film, the filmmaker, and the world of filmmaking will enjoy this track immensely. City of Night: The Making of 'Collateral' (480p, 40:59) is an extended piece that looks heavily at the elements found in the story, the construction of the characters and the importance of building them up even through backgrounds that aren't necessarily evident in the film, Cruise's hardcore training for the role and how it helped better the film, Jamie Foxx's acting and driving training, the lengths the additional cast went to to lend realism to their secondary roles, shooting digitally, shooting locations, stunts, the score, and even the color scheme of the taxi. There's a wealth of information to be found here, and City of Night proves a well-above-average making-of piece that fans will enjoy.
Next up are several smaller features. Special Delivery (480p, 1:09) takes an interesting and all-too-brief look at a task Cruise undertook to prepare for the role. Shooting on Location: Annie's Office (480p, 2:34) takes a closer look at the construction of one of the film's crucial sequences and, again, the advantages of shooting Collateral digitally. Next is Tom Cruise & Jamie Foxx Rehearse (480p, 4:13), a short piece that showcases the two lead actors rehearsing several scenes, intercut with the final corresponding scene from the film. Visual Effects: MTA Train (480p, 2:27) examines the implementation of special effects into the film's finale. Rounding out this collection of extras is a deleted scene with Michael Mann commentary (480p, 1:57) and the film's teaser (1080p, 2:11) and theatrical (1080p, 2:18) trailers.
Collateral Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Not exactly an "exciting" movie but one that's certainly hard-hitting, thoughtful, wonderfully constructed, splendidly acted, and boasting a strong sense of realism, Collateral proves a high quality entry into the Michael Mann canon and one of the better films in Actor Tom Cruise's long career. For Jamie Foxx, it's another in a growing string of exceptional performances by an actor that doesn't seem to get quite the recognition he deserves but can always be counted on for a first-class performance no matter what the part calls for. Collateral is ultimately an anti-buddy movie that juxtaposes thought processes, ways of life, and moral compasses, but also suggests that man is capable of turning to the opposite end of the spectrum when need be, whether that means getting ugly when the going gets tough or buying flowers for a sickly woman in the hospital. Mann captures this dichotomy superbly and blends it into both the cramped interior of a taxi and the vast world of Los Angeles where, Vincent so simply states, "nobody notices" anything that's happening around them, good, bad, or otherwise. What is worth noticing is Paramount's superb Blu-ray release of Collateral. Boasting a wonderful 1080p transfer that's at times inherently messy but nevertheless strongly detailed and colored, a quality lossless soundtrack, and a nice selection of extras, Collateral is a catalogue title that's a worthy addition to any Blu-ray library. Highly recommended.
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Collateral Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Collateral Blu-ray Announced - January 12, 2010
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that it will release the Dreamworks SKG production 'Collateral' on Blu-ray on March 30. This stylized crime/thriller 2004 movie, directed by Michael Mann, stars Tom Cruise as a contract killer and Jamie Foxx as the cab ...
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