everything is normal but then a body falls from the sky. That scenario sounds more like a writing prompt than an inciting incident for a police thriller, but a 2004 movie takes this shocking plot twist and turns it into a cat-and-mouse game between an all-powerful villain and a hopeless hero. claims, with both roles. played by action movie powerhouses. It’s a masterclass in creating a thriller that puts as much emphasis on character as it does action, and it’s essential for movie fans everywhere before it drops on HBO Max on July 31.
Collateral is a 2004 neo-noir thriller directed by Michael Mann. Jamie Foxx stars as Max, a mild-mannered Los Angeles cabbie trying to get through another night while saving up to start his own limousine business. Nothing is unusual until a mysterious silver fox named Vincent (a wigged Tom Cruise) slips into the backseat of him and offers him a large amount of money to drive him around town all night.
Max agrees, unaware that Vincent is performing a series of hits. That little detail is only revealed when, after his first stop, a corpse crashes through a window and into his cab. It’s not a great way to start a fare, but it’s a good way to start a movie. Over the course of the film, Max sheds his placid demeanor and finds the action star in him, one who can take on a professional hit man who is holding him hostage.
While Michael Mann’s direction alone makes this film a landmark film, it’s Stuart Beattie’s screenplay that really delivers the emotion. If that name sounds familiar to you, that’s because the Australian screenwriter recently tackled four episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Beattie’s writing is matched, of course, with the one-two of Cruise and Foxx playing each other, chatting about ambition and destiny as they drive through Los Angeles. The action is perfectly 2004, though it maintains enough film noir elements to make the film timeless.
Apart from its textual brilliance, Collateral it also captures a distinct energy, one of reckless optimism and the allure of going after what you want without fear of breaking the rules. A scene on a train contains some of the best performances Cruise and Foxx have ever done. It’s no surprise that Foxx was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and it’s a little surprising that Cruise was turned down.
This is a movie that deserves to stand alongside bedroom poster legends like Ride, ScarfaceY fight club, but is somehow overlooked in many retrospectives. Stream it before it’s too late and cement your place as a classic in your own movie rankings.
Collateral airs on HBO Max through July 31.