Thursday, October 28, 2004


Saw Collateral this Tuesday. At Cineplanet. Wednesday was holiday on account of Elections. First about Cineplanet. I dont understand the reason, these multiplexes charge so much just for decent air-conditioning, seats and dolby sound. And these multiplexes even get a tax holiday from the govertment. So essentially, they are just ripping off the aam junta. I paid 95 and got a neck breaking 2nd row seat. The sound system was just about better than my home theater system and the print was scratched at many places by the theater cat. Chennai theatres give far better VFM, with an unbeatbale audio system. I wonder, if we should really allow these guys to run riot with ticket rates or just boycott them and watch pirated movies instead?

Anyway, about Collateral. Heard lot about this action thriller and it lived quite well upto its reputation. For the uninitiated, the movie is about a hired hitman Vincent (Smooth Cruise) who hires a cabbie (Jamie Foxx) for a night to carry out his 5 hits for the night - these are guys who are witnesses on a drug tracfficking case. Things dont quite work to plan so Cruise moves into adapt, improvise, Darwin mode and gets Jamie entangled more and more in his crimes for the day. The action moves at a break-neck (not coz of my seating) speed and hurtles towards a nail-biting climax. Cruise turns into a horror movie physopathic killer, totally inconsiderate for his life and others, who cross his path, in the sole pursuit of his goal - the last hit.

The punches (of the cinematic kind) come at the right time and right panache. You are at once, feeling for Jaime for the quagmire he is in, but Cruise, being Cruise, you want him to go through with all his hits successfully (I did... perversely). He just has you by the fuzz of his high cheek bone. He is cool, menacing, fast and calculated. When he runs, he so much reminds you of the Robert Patrick's T-1000. Except, you will have women swooning for Vincent.

Yes, the film exposes the underbelly of LA, of being such a rich, hip, hyper yet a disjoint, lonely city - where your trouble is your trouble alone and possibly, someone else spoils.
Yet, there are many things that stop it from being a classic. I expected a successful hitman, to be reticent, not giving too much away to strangers. But Vincent, right from word go, starts to get too friendly with the cabbie, asking him personal questions, giving opinions and then justifying his killings, with insignifance of human life vis a vis the universe. Also, couldnt Vincent just do the job with a hired car, rather than making another person (that too, a so very traceable guy as a taxi driver) a witness of his crimes. Also, Vincent get into too many dangerous (dangerous for a hitman of repute, I mean) situations too easily. He kills rampantly and inefficiently. He could easily have floored the two muggers without a sound instead of shooting indiscriminately-causing a sonic boom noise which richochets through the block. Lucky no one notices. And, even though coming from me, I find that the plot doesnt get too celebral, though clearly the director (Michael Mann - Heat, The Insider) aims it to instill a deeper meaning into the murkiness of the on-killings. Or did it go above my head?( Blame the seats!!)

Basically, the falliablity of the plot is based on its premise of cabbie-hitman interaction and that makes it a bit difficult to work around with for the script writers. Still must agree, money spent on the movie is money well spent (yes yes, inspite of the seat)
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