Tom Cruise goes against type to play the villain as director Michael Mann aims to recreate the success of Heat in this hitman-on-a-mission thriller. Jamie Foxx is the reluctant cabbie who is forced to go along with Cruise's relentless killer in a high-calibre outing where the city of Los Angeles is made to look as cool as the stars. Jada Pinkett gets caught in the crossfire while Mark Ruffalo plays the cop on the Tom-inator's trail.
Jada Pinkett Smith
An average night on the streets of Los Angeles for Max the taxi driver takes an interesting turn when he picks up a classy looking businessman.
The businessman makes Max an offer he can't refuse, and before he realises what he's agreed to, said taxi-man is now the personal driver to Tom Cruise's Vincent, a hitman who plans to make six 'stops' before hopping on the first plane out of town.
In Michael Mann's greatest hour, he faced Robert De Niro's workaholic criminal up against Al Pacino's workaholic cop.
And against the backdrop of a bank robbery thriller, the pair acted each other off the screen.
The similarities with Collateral are unmistakable. The sharp script and cinematography on the streets of night-time Los Angeles create a high-class feel to the proceedings of a movie that, like Heat before it, relies heavily on the two central characters to make things work.
And even though Jamie Foxx provides a good base for the audience to empathise with - as the hard done-by cab driver Max - it's a little disappointing that we're offered a solid character actor with good comic timing, as opposed to a heavyweight A-list star who could have sparred with the Cruiser much more effectively.
And because of this, the biggest draw of the movie is also the biggest drawback.
Cruise's performance is measured and mostly unflawed. But in being a Hollywood star, he inevitably needs to look good.
Cue a scene in which Vincent actually saves Max from a couple of street hoodlums in such a manner as to claim a cheer from the audience.
And that's the problem. The audience shouldn't be cheering. To create the requisite tension, the audience should be willing each bullet that Cruise fires back into the gun, not into a bystander's head.
It appears that, instead of going for it, Mann has wimped out somewhat by allowing too many Cruise 'moments' and far too much comedy.
Instead of cranked up tension, we get a highly comical meeting between Max, Vincent and Max's sick mother, and an audience-pleasing verbal attack by Vincent on the cab company's radio controller.
Had this been left on the cutting room floor, instead of the sub-plot involving Mark Ruffalo's cop who's hot on the trail of the rogue cab, the tension that set Mann's previous work apart from the rest wouldn't have remained so elusive.
It could have been a taut and tense thriller with powerhouse acting and a meaty story but instead, Collateral is a mediocre action movie with a couple of impressive tricks up its sleeve.
Ultimately a disappointing film simply because it could have been much, much more.