Collateral 2004 ★★★★½

What do you get when you take a scientologist and a stand up comic and put them in a dark gritty film like Collateral? I wish I could think of a punchline to follow that one up so here's what you get...

The acting is outstanding. Jamie Foxx is fantastic in one of his first serious and dramatic roles. In the past, Foxx had proven to be charming, but his actual acting ability had come into question until 2004 where he tackled two Oscar nominated turns in one year: Ray Charles in Ray and cab driver Max in this film. His character is handled very well and made even more complex and compelling than he needed to, thanks to Foxx's performance. He plays a man with a certain set of morals until he's pushed to the limit's and is forced to question his own morals because of hitman Vincent, played by Tom Cruise in a role that casts him against type. He is so calm, so cold, and so calculated that he's actually kinda scary. Who wouldve thought such a little man could come off as such a threat? I know I know. We've seen it done with the likes of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, but can you really recall a time where Tom Cruise of all people was ever this intimidating? Maybe it's all the scientology. I heard that's what it does to people. The two have such amazing chemistry. They bounce off of each other really well in both dialogue exchanges and subtle looks. They both give excellent performances and it's riveting to see the two work off of each other. They're the heart of the film and the reason why the film works so well. You also get some great supporting performances from Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Javier Bardem just to name a few names on such a great cast.

This is one of those films where the director makes the city into a character of it's own. Here, Los Angeles lives, breathes, walks, and talks. It helps bring life into this film and make it feel so authentic and genuine. The writing is just fantastic here. The characters feel fully realized, captivating, and complex the story really pulls you in from beginning to end. The dialogue is especially captivating. Like the city itself, it feels so real. The action is also very exciting. I loved the soundtrack/score. It's amazing and just really fit the tone of the film. This is easily one of the best films Michael Mann ever directed.

I loved all of it until the very end. Literally actually. The end brings it down a notch. After all of the brilliance in this film, especially considering this amazing conversation between Foxx and Cruise beforehand, it becomes a more slightly cliched standard thriller in the last few minutes. It's not a terrible conclusion, but it feels like after everything the film had establish, it just lost steam in the end.

Still, this is a terrific, well directed, well acted, and incredibly underrated film that deserves more attention.