Driving Miss Samurai
Review by Ross Anthony

Collateral I've been invited to over 500 screenings, but this was the first time I've ever seen rows 1 through 10 taped off. Generally, I like to sit close, especially for action films, but as I approached the front of the theater I was told that Michael Mann (the director) prefers we view the film from the best perspective. On the one hand, that's awfully thoughtful of him, and perhaps viewers will appreciate knowing his thoughts on the matter. On the other hand, this was not a suggestion, the seats were taped off and not one critic was seated in the first 10 rows. A suggestion would have suited, but the requirement proved a tad presumptuous and even suspicious.

Upon viewing, it was obvious that the image was riddled with digital artifacts. Either it was shot digitally or transferred for digital projection. In general, I have no problem with "digital" films, the latest "Star Wars" looks gorgeous. But, here the quality of the image suffered somewhat. Not a lot. Some pixilations, some halos around lights, grays where blacks should have been, and harsh pans. Nonetheless, the subjects where in sharp clean focus and the framing was fine. Still, I couldn't help but wonder why Mr. Mann wanted us out of those front rows -- did the quality of film look even worse there? Or was it the chunks of time the film spent in a moving vehicle. Perhaps a closer viewing would provoke motion sickness? (Oh additionally, very sporadically, the dialogue was difficult to decifer.)

As for the content, "Collateral" is itself a pretty cool idea. Many times this idea is executed well, but several times not. After you get used to the slightly cheesy graying hair and beard, Tom Cruise is awesome as the hardened hit man that enjoys waxing philosophic (though he does so teetering between optimism and cynicism). His is a very interesting character on its own and the film would have done well to delve further into him. But instead it favors action for its climax.

Foxx does a fair to midland job as the fair to midland taxi driver that involuntarily gets caught up in a night of killing. Though the directing is tight, acting strong overall, and action compelling, the film's real heart beats when the hit man and the taxi driver dual verbally. Sort of a "Driving Miss Daisy" meets "Last Samurai."

Two or three "unbelievabilities" soured the film for me; they might not for you. Our loyal taxi driver leaves an angered hardened killer alone with his mother. I don't buy it. And there are a few other contrivances intended to put our characters where the writer wants them hoping we won't notice the improbable set up.

Still, the strong back and forth between the two leads and some sturdy daring progressions make the film memorable.

Interesting note: Collateral was shot entirely in Los Angeles. Foxx says, "I tried to tell him, 'Mike, I'm from the ghetto.' and he said, 'You're not from the ghetto. I know the ghetto. You want me to show you some ghetto?' And he took me places where even I was like, 'Man, lock the doors!'"

  • Collateral. Copyright © 2004. Rated R.
  • Starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo.
  • Directed by Michael Mann.
  • Written by Stuart Beattie.
  • Produced by Michael Mann, Julie Richards at DreamWorks/Paramount.

Grade..........................B (2/4)

Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:16:53 PDT