How to Get a Secured Credit Card

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A secured credit card is just like a regular credit card, but it requires a cash security deposit, which acts as collateral for the credit limit. In terms of usage, it’s an identical replacement for a regular credit card, which can be very useful if you occasionally need a credit card and you’re having trouble getting one due to a poor or limited credit history. 

This type of credit card is backed by the cash deposit you make when you open the account. Yes, the process is essentially like giving yourself credit, but a card issued by a reputable bank also helps you build or rebuild your credit by reporting your on-time payments to the three major credit bureaus. Start your journey to improved credit by first learning how to choose a secured credit card.

Find the Right Secured Credit Card

The secured credit card market offers dozens of options these days, but that doesn’t mean they are all worthy of consideration. It’s essential to select the right card to ensure the terms are favorable and you reap the most benefits. After all, you’re essentially spending your own money on the card, not the bank’s. An ideal secured credit card should charge low interest rates, have reasonable annual fees — preferably no annual fee, but that’s rare — and commit to reporting your credit status to the major credit bureaus each month. 

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It’s also essential to give higher priority to secured cards that have a provision to convert your account to an unsecured credit card after a set number of months (usually six to 12) of timely payments or once you achieve an excellent credit score. Research cards thoroughly before applying to ensure you understand all the requirements and benefits.

Decide on a Security Deposit Amount

Most secured credit cards allow for different security deposit amounts, with most setting minimum deposits at $200 to $500 to secure a credit line of the same amount. Depending on your creditworthiness and the bank’s policy, you may be able to deposit a higher amount to receive a higher credit limit. The Capital One Secured Mastercard sometimes requests a lower deposit amount of $49 to initiate a credit limit of $200 or more, but most card limits are equal to the deposit.

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It’s important to already have the security deposit on hand when you apply for a secured card, as you will be required to pay the full security deposit within a few days of approval. Thoroughly research the payment details and rules and make sure you understand them before applying.

Apply for the Card

Once you choose the secured credit card account you want to open, you can usually apply online, although in-person, phone and mail applications may also be available. An online application is likely to provide the fastest results for approval and account setup and will probably offer an option for making your deposit online as well. Once your application is approved and the process is complete, your secured credit card will be sent to your mailing address.

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Be aware that in some circumstances, applications for a secured credit card may still be rejected, even though you are offering collateral. This is usually due to a very recent negative credit history, particularly if that history involves a bankruptcy that is less than one year old. Other factors could include a recent criminal history, especially if that history involved financial crimes related to banking.

Moving from Secured to Unsecured

Once you establish a good credit history, many secured credit cards automatically convert to a regular unsecured card after 12 to 18 months. If you make timely payments and pay your balance in full — an excellent credit building practice — or at least keep your balance far below the credit limit, you could request a review to convert your account in as little as six months. 

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If your account doesn’t automatically transition after a year and you’re sure that you followed all the terms and conditions, you should contact the bank to discuss converting the account. If you prefer to explore other bank’s credit card options at that time, you could also apply for a regular credit card on your own.

Why Secured Credit Cards Are a Good Option

According to financial experts, getting a secured credit card is an excellent financial move when you need to build new credit or rebuild damaged credit. Secured credit cards offer individuals with bad credit or no credit history at all a chance to start proving they can be financially responsible. These cards are even helpful after a bankruptcy, although some banks may require you to wait at least a year.

Secured credit cards can also serve as a starting point for obtaining other forms of credit. Unlike prepaid credit cards, they automatically report your credit history with them to the three major credit bureaus, which boosts your score as long as your card isn’t at its limit. If your card can’t be converted to an unsecured card — be sure to look for one that can! — you can close your account and get your security deposit back after you’ve achieved a good score and obtained other credit.


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Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, 'collateral' a genre thriller, but so much more.

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"Collateral" opens with Tom Cruise exchanging briefcases with a stranger in an airport. Then, intriguingly, it seems to turn into another movie. We meet a cab driver named Max ( Jamie Foxx ), who picks up a ride named Annie ( Jada Pinkett Smith). She's all business. She rattles off the streets he should take to get her to downtown Los Angeles. He says he knows a faster route. They end up making a bet: The ride will be free if he doesn't get them downtown faster.

The scene continues. It's not about flirtation. Sometimes you only need to have a few words with a person to know you would like to have many more. They open up. She's a federal prosecutor who confesses she's so nervous the night before a big case that she cries. He says he plans to own his own limousine service. They like each other. He lets her get out of the cab and knows he should have asked for her number. Then she taps on the window and gives him her card.

This is a long scene to come at the beginning of a thriller, but a good one, establishing two important characters. It is also good on its own terms, like a self-contained short film. It allows us to learn things about Max we could not possibly learn in the scenes to follow, and adds a subtext after the next customer into his cab is Tom Cruise.

Cruise plays a man named Vincent, who seems certain, centered, and nice. He needs a driver to spend all night with him, driving to five destinations, and offers him six crisp $100 bills as persuasion. First stop, an apartment building. No parking in front. Vincent tells Max to wait for him in the alley. If you know nothing about the film, save this review until after.

A body lands on top of the cab. "You threw him out of the window and killed him?" Max asks incredulously. No, says Vincent, the bullets killed him. Then he went out the window. So now we know more about Vincent. The movie is structured to make his occupation a surprise, but how much of a surprise can it be when the movie's Web site cheerfully blurts out: "Vincent is a contract killer." Never mind. The surprise about Vincent's occupation is the least of the movie's pleasures.

"Collateral" is essentially a long conversation between a killer and a man who fears for his life. Mann punctuates the conversation with what happens at each of the five stops, where he uses detailed character roles and convincing dialogue by writer Stuart Beattie to create, essentially, more short films that could be free-standing. Look at the heartbreaking scene where Vincent takes Max along with him into a nightclub, where they have a late-night talk with Daniel ( Barry Shabaka Henley ), the owner. Daniel remembers a night Miles Davis came into the club, recalling it with such warmth and wonder, such regret for his own missed opportunities as a musician, that we're looking into the window of his life.

Mann is working in a genre with "Collateral," as he was in " Heat " (1995), but he deepens genre through the kind of specific detail that would grace a straight drama. Consider a scene where Vincent asks (or orders) Max to take him to the hospital where Max's mother is a patient. The mother is played by Irma P. Hall (the old lady in the Coens' "The Lady-Killers"), and she makes an instant impression, as a woman who looks at this man with her son, and intuits that everything might not be right, and keeps that to herself.

These scenes are so much more interesting than the standard approach of the shifty club owner or the comic-relief Big Mama. Mann allows dialogue into the kind of movie that many directors now approach as wall-to-wall action. Action gains a lot when it happens to convincing individuals, instead of to off-the-shelf action figures.

What's particularly interesting is the way he, and Cruise, modulate the development of Vincent as a character. Vincent is not what he seems, but his secret is not that he's a killer; that's merely his occupation. His secret is his hidden psychological life going back to childhood, and in the way he thinks all the time about what life means, even as he takes it. When Max tells him the taxi job is "temporary" and talks about his business plans, Vincent finds out how long he's been driving a cab (12 years) and quotes John Lennon : "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." Max tells Vincent something, too: "You lack standard parts that are supposed to be there in most people."

I would have preferred for the movie to end in something other than a chase scene, particularly one involving a subway train, since I've seen about six of those already this summer, but Mann directs it well. And he sets it up with a cat-and-mouse situation in a darkened office, which is very effective; it opens with a touch of " Rear Window " as Max watches what's happening on different floors of an office building.

Cruise and the filmmakers bring a great deal more to his character than we expect in a thriller. What he reveals about Vincent, deliberately and unintentionally, leads up to a final line that is worthy of one of those nihilistic French crime movies from the 1950s. Jamie Foxx's work is a revelation. I've thought of him in terms of comedy (" Booty Call ," "Breakin' all the Rules"), but here he steps into a dramatic lead and is always convincing and involving. Now I'm looking forward to his playing Ray Charles ; before, I wasn't so sure. And observe the way Jada Pinkett Smith sidesteps the conventions of the Meet Cute and brings everyday plausibility to every moment of Annie's first meeting with Max. This is a rare thriller that's as much character study as sound and fury.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Collateral movie poster

Collateral (2004)

Rated R for violence and language

120 minutes

Tom Cruise as Vincent

Jamie Foxx as Max

Javier Bardem as Felix

Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie

Emilio Rivera as Paco

Barry Shabaka Henley as Daniel

Irma P. Hall as Max's mother

Directed by

  • Michael Mann
  • Stuart Beattie

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2004, Mystery & thriller/Crime, 2h 0m

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Critics Consensus

Driven by director Michael Mann's trademark visuals and a lean, villainous performance from Tom Cruise, Collateral is a stylish and compelling noir thriller. Read critic reviews

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A cab driver realizes his current fare is a hit man that has been having him drive around from mark to mark until the last witness to a crime is dead. When the cabbie finally figures out the truth, he must prevent the assassin from wiping out his last witness without becoming the next in the professional killer's line of casualties.

Rating: R (Violence|Language)

Genre: Mystery & thriller, Crime, Drama

Original Language: English

Director: Michael Mann

Producer: Michael Mann , Julie Richardson

Writer: Stuart Beattie , Stuart Beattie , Frank Darabont , Michael Mann

Release Date (Theaters): Aug 5, 2004  original

Release Date (Streaming): Aug 1, 2014

Box Office (Gross USA): $100.0M

Runtime: 2h 0m

Distributor: DreamWorks SKG

Production Co: Edge City LLC, Paramount Pictures, Forward Pass, DreamWorks SKG

Sound Mix: SDDS, DTS, Stereo, Surround, Dolby Digital, Dolby SRD

Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)

Cast & Crew

Jada Pinkett Smith

Mark Ruffalo

Richard Weidner

Bruce McGill

Irma P. Hall

Barry Shabaka Henley

Richard T. Jones

Traffic Cop #1

Bodhi Elfman

Young Professional Man

Young Professional Woman

Javier Bardem

Paul Adelstein

Michael Mann

Stuart Beattie

Julie Richardson

Frank Darabont

Executive Producer

Chuck Russell

Robert N. Fried

Peter Giuliano

Michael Waxman

Associate Producer

First Assistant Director


Paul Cameron


Film Editor

David Wasco

Production Design

Daniel T. Dorrance

Art Director

Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

Set Decoration

Jeffrey Kurland

Costume Design

News & Interviews for Collateral

Rank Tom Cruise’s 10 Best Movies

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Critic Reviews for Collateral

Audience reviews for collateral.

Cruise and Foxx are perfectly cast here both getting to indulge in the kind of performances they don't often get to do (Cruise as a villain, Foxx as the everyman). Mann, per usual, knows how to make these kinds of thrillers fly when most others would make it perfunctory.

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Pretty good for a Tom Cruise led movie, but he's still bloody playing Tom Cruise. Just Tom Cruise with even stupider hair. Tom Cruise.

Collateral stars action movie star Tom Cruise as Vincent, a hit-man arriving in LA to complete contracts. He travels around the city using a taxi, forcing the driver, played by Jamie Foxx, to take him from kill to kill. That synopsis sounds weird, right? America's action hero, Tom Cruise, playing the villain? As odd as it may seem, Cruise did a phenomenal job. His antagonistic approach worked right off the bat, strolling out of an airport at night wearing sunglasses and receiving a hit list from Jason Statham (appearing in a cameo many believe to be reprising his role in the Transporter series). Cruise also works really well with Foxx. Their constant arguments about the morality of Cruise's actions are what really carry the movie. Michael Mann's direction is incredibly stylish and fitting - his use of colorful lighting and establishment shots of LA really bring the scenery to life. Aaron brought up the fact that the movie was shot digitally, and it really worked well with the colors (even if it was a little noticeable for zoom-in shots). Another thing that helped the cinematography was the editing; top-notch cuts helped the desperate tone. The subtle use of music is also noticeable. There are many scenes with nothing but the sounds of the streets as a backdrop. We gave this movie a lot of praise, but we have to be picky as well and say that Collateral is by no means perfect. Jada Pinkett Smith's character, in the movie for all of 15 minutes, is oddly trusting to Foxx (she was a customer in his Taxi before Cruise) right away. This forced plot element paid off, though, as the writing really brought the movie full-circle in the end. Mark Ruffalo is also in this movie, and his presence is completely unnecessary. it's not that Ruffalo was bad. His character could have been cut and the movie would be the same. All-in-all, Collateral is carried by the two lead performances and brilliant cinematography, even if the plot is at times convenient. We at Musicians on Movies agree that Collateral earns a B rating.

An interesting premise with a promising end result, Collateral must not be missed. Great performances from Jamie Foxx and most especially Tom Cruise.

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A fter the interesting - if financially disastrous - diversion of his biopic Ali, Collateral sees Michael Mann returning to familiar themes in a film honed to perfection. This is the Michael Mann fan's Michael Mann film, not as significant as The Insider but every bit as good as his trademark existentialist crime thrillers, Heat and Thief.

What makes it grip from the start is the excellence of Stuart Beattie's script, one of the film's six Bafta nominations. Beattie had a lot of fun with his last writing job, Pirates of the Caribbean, but here his work delineates its three leading characters with rare skill. Taxi driver Jamie Foxx is smart, cool and just a little bit psychic; his first, passenger Jada Pinkett Smith's lawyer is smart too, but in a sparky exchange, allows her vulnerable side to show.

Passenger two is Tom Cruise, grey-haired, grey-clothed and an archetypal Mann character, locked into his job to the detriment of all else. The job is a hit man. I've never been a big fan of Cruise - all those years of cute, carefree kid who becomes a man through a life-changing incident plots were hard to sit through. But his recent parts, mixing action roles with dark, personal fare, have been exemplary. He's now self-contained and self-sufficient in a whole new way and he's even more dangerous here than in Magnolia. So many Hollywood pretty boys of the past gave us nothing but straight-arrow heroes, while swamping the ageing process in soft-focus photography - Robert Redford especially springs to mind - to ever-decreasing effect. But Cruise, whose tombstone teeth always looked too feral to be cute, is taking up career diversity to the manner born. Here he's laconic and tight-lipped almost throughout: a Cruise laugh on 55 minutes comes as a shock in this context.

Collateral is a long, dark night of three souls as Foxx becomes inextricably involved in Cruise's nefarious schemes - it's an intense character study that also works in triplicate as a film noir and a road movie. Mann takes us to a wide variety of LA locations, contrasting an evocative empty jazz club with time for an extended, quiet anecdote about Miles Davis and a frenetic shoot-out in a Korean nightclub.

Mann's choice of music is inspired - Bach and Davis apart, it's obscure but apt. The film ratchets up the tension carefully, one notch at a time and if Cruise is impressive, it's left to Jamie Foxx to surprise us all with an intense performance of great conviction. It's common knowledge that he has gone on to play Ray Charles in this week's cinema release, Ray, but his key role in Mann's Ali, as the boxer's adviser, Drew "Bundini" Brown is largely forgotten. It's hard to think of an actor whose stock has risen so fast this year and it's going to be fun to see how far he can go.

We've been through so many subway climaxes, notably in Spider-Man 2, that the scene disappoints a little before Mann's Rear Window-style finale. But the film, shot largely on digital video, allowing it to use mostly natural light in a smoky, hazy look, hardly puts a foot wrong.

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Collateral Is the Most Michael Mann Film of All Michael Mann Films

An underrated gritty return to form, the film includes the best seven minutes on his resume that don’t involve Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and a diner booth.

Headshot of Chris Nashawaty

In Michael Mann’s greatest movies, the good guys are never really all that different from the bad guys. And make no mistake, they are always guys. The heroes and antiheroes of his stylishly macho films are put through their cat-and-mouse paces in a decidedly grey moral world, rather than a black-and-white one. There’s no room for concepts like right and wrong, they are all lonely nocturnal ambiguity—modern-day Ronin sagas cloaked in a cool shades of gun-metal slate. Just think of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in 1995’s Heat , where these two acting heavyweights play two equally obsessive sides of the same coin. Watching their famous diner tete-a-tete with the sound off, you’d never know who was the cop and who was the criminal.

Heat is widely (and rightly) considered to be Mann’s masterpiece—the director’s grand meditation on all of his favorite pet themes: loyalty, honor, integrity, crime, compulsion, loneliness, and the point where good and evil bleed into one another until you’re no longer sure which side you’re meant to be rooting for. It’s a grab bag of leitmotifs that was there from the start in the director’s pair of ‘80s gems, Thief and Manhunter . But as undeniably lean and mean as both of those films are, I’d argue the movie that actually nips most closely at the heels of Heat in the top tier of Mann’s underworld classics is 2004’s Collateral —another violent, nihilism-drenched thriller that, if you squint just a little, seems to exist in the same spiritual universe as Heat . They’re two movements in an underworld symphony of L.A. after dark.

Just out in a flawless new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Collateral isn’t exactly what anyone who considers themselves to be an auteur buff would call a “deep cut.” Any movie that stars Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx and makes $220 million at the worldwide box office can hardly be called “overlooked.” And yet, well, it kind of is. The story of a lone-wolf contract killer (Cruise) who strongarms a hapless and meticulous cab driver (Foxx) into ferrying him on his nightly rounds to wipe out five targets involved in a grand-jury case, Collateral may not be the best Michael Mann film, but it certainly is the most Michael Mann film.

When Collateral hit theaters 16 years ago, Mann was coming off a pair of well-received, Oscar-nominated dramas, 1999’s The Insider and 2001’s Ali . Both had the technical precision, live-wire performances, and high-IQ smarts we expect from Mann’s movies. And both were based on real life headlines and headline-makers. But let’s face it, real life isn’t what we’re looking for when we fork over ten bucks to see a new Michael Mann movie. We want crooks plying their crooked trades in the shadows, haunted men obsessed with their jobs to the point of mania, and the sort of gritty-but-gorgeous action set pieces that leave you breathless and spent. Collateral marked a return to stoic form.

Written by Australian Stuart Beattie, Collateral was originally called The Last Domino , a lousy title which was thankfully changed. And eventually, the script made its way into the hands of Frank Darabont ( The Shawshank Redemption ), who had a deal at the time to make low-budget genre movies for HBO. But HBO passed, clearing the way for DreamWorks to step in. The studio flirted with Mimi Leder ( Deep Impact ) and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski ( Saving Private Ryan ) to direct, but both would end up drifting away. As would Russell Crowe, who was itching to play the hitman-villain role of Vincent. But the one fortuitous thing that came from Crowe’s brief involvement was that he passed his enthusiasm onto the man who recently directed him in The Insider , Michael Mann.

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More Coverage Of the Movies That Matter

With Crowe out, Mann sparked to the idea of casting Tom Cruise against heroic type. Adam Sandler toyed with the idea of playing Max, the cabbie. But when Sandler bailed to star in Spanglish (just one of the countless puzzling, ‘What If’ choices Hollywood happens to be littered with), Mann offered the part to Jamie Foxx—a happy accident if ever there was one because he’s absolutely perfect. Something Mann suspected from working with the actor on Ali . As is Cruise, whose unexpected amorality and guiltless, hair-trigger sadism shows just how great the star can be when he fucks with our expectations and zigs when we expect him to zag.

Over the years, Mann has described Collateral as “only the third act” of a story. And that gambit works so well in the film that you have to wonder why more screenwriters and directors don’t try that sort of formal experimentation more often. At the opening of the film, we have no idea who Cruise’s Vincent is, what his backstory is, or what he’s doing in L.A. We just seeing him walking through LAX, presumably just off a plane from Chicago or some other metropolis that breeds cold-eyed killers dressed in sharp grey suits with sunglasses and a shock of silver-grey hair on his head that matches the close-cropped, salt-and-pepper beard on his face. If Tom Ford ever created an haute couture line for sociopaths, Vincent would be its posterboy.

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While Cruise’s Vincent is a complete mystery, Foxx’s Max is less so thanks to an introductory scene in which he takes a prosecutor (Jada Pinkett Smith in the best ten minutes she’s ever had on screen) to the airport. Within seconds, he knows what she does for a living, what makes her tick, and even who makes her handbag. Because, for Max, his cab is a confessional booth on wheels. He sees so many people in his rearview mirror every day that he’s developed a sixth sense about them. It’s too bad he doesn’t size up Vincent a few beats longer before he becomes his next fare. Cruise starts off chatty and chummy with Max, offering him $600 to take him to five different spots around L.A. And if the offer seems to be too good to be true, that’s because it is. While parked in an alley during their first stop, a bullet-riddled body lands on the roof of Max’s cab with Cruise racing after it, suddenly forced to explain the new reality of the long, bloody evening that lays ahead. “You killed him!” Max says. To which Vincent matter-of-factly replies, “No, the bullets and the fall killed him….Now get in the fucking car.”

Collateral (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital)

Collateral (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital)

Watching Collateral again this week, the thing that surprised me the most about it was how amazing Cruise is playing a psycho grim reaper—and why, with the exception of 1999’s Magnolia , he didn’t venture into the dark more often. You could say that Collateral is the anti-Tom Cruise movie, an immersive, full-body deep dive into seductive sadism and remorseless evil where he gets to spout be-bop arias of unhinged lunacy that we rarely get to hear coming out his mouth like “We’ve got to make the best of it. Improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it.” And yet, it’s also totally a Tom Cruise movie because, well, you can’t help but be a little charmed—seduced even—by this existential sicko no matter how depraved his five-item To Do list is.

Like every Michael Mann movie—even the not very good ones like Public Enemies and Blackhat —every single frame in Collateral is composed with a jeweler’s eye for detail. This was actually the first film in which Mann (or really any A-list Hollywood director actually) used high-def video instead of film stock. Mann has said that in order to capture the silhouettes of L.A. at night, celluloid wouldn’t have worked. I’ll take his word for it. But the film’s green-tinted graininess gives the Tinseltown of Collateral the haunted neo-noir glow of a ghost town that left the lights on before it was abandoned. In the movie’s greatest sustained spasm of suspense and violence, he shoots a chaotic gunfight inside a Koreatown dance club like something out of one of the higher rings of Dante’s Inferno. It may be the best seven minutes on his resume that don’t involve Robert De Niro and Al Pacino sitting in a diner booth. And watching it, you can’t help but think of what a mess it might have been had someone like Michael Bay or Joss Whedon directed it instead.

If Collateral wasn’t as great a film as it is, it would be worth checking out just for that sequence alone. But, of course, there’s so many more brilliant moments hiding in plain sight in the movie that jump out at you the more times you watch it: The way Foxx manages to flirt with Pinkett Smith without actually flirting; the way Cruise pop, pop, pops a bunch of drug-addled goons trying to make off with his briefcase and then delivers one final pop without looking as an exclamation point; the way Javier Bardem, in just one quick scene, manages to turn a story about Santa Claus into the cold-sweat nightmare fuel. But don’t take my word for it. Throw it on for yourself and, you know, “improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, roll with it….”

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Chris Nashawaty is a writer, editor, critic, and author of books about Roger Corman & Caddyshack. 

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Summary Max (Foxx) has lived the mundane life of a cab driver for 12 years. The faces have come and gone from his rearview mirror, people and places he's long since forgotten -- until tonight. Vincent (Cruise) is a contract killer. When an offshore narcotrafficking cartel learns they are about to be indicted by a federal grand jury, they mount ... Read More

Directed By : Michael Mann

Written By : Stuart Beattie

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Collateral Review


17 Sep 2004

120 minutes

Heat, Michael Mann's meditation on the crime movie, was a dialogue between two people who breathed the same intoxicating air but rarely shared the same physical space. Collateral, his latest unholy visitation on the City Of Angels, reverses this dynamic. Professionally mild cabbie Max and professional assassin Vincent travel roads that should never cross, but for one night they're boxed together, reluctant chauffeur and ruthless killer.

If Heat explored the harmonics between equal but opposite forces – cop vs. thief; Pacino vs. De Niro – this investigates a very different relationship between the strong and the seemingly helpless. It is fitting, then, that it pits the world's biggest star against a young actor then still best known as a comedian. And in the same way that Max must tap hidden talents if he's to survive, Jamie Foxx enters the cab with promise and exits as the equal of a Cruise operating at the very top of his own A-game.

Cruise, perverting that trademark salesman charm into something altogether sinister, and Foxx, his natural exuberance pinched into quiet confidence, play Collateral as a buddy movie. It's Vincent who dresses as a lone wolf, but until this night both men have operated as one, and some welcome comedy is occasioned by the odd couple adjusting to each other. Vincent insinuates himself into Max's comfortable routine – in one memorable diversion, the killer makes nice with his hostage's mom – and challenges his liberal assumptions. In return, Max gradually chips away at Vincent's carefully constructed cynicism, inadvertently turning what should be a routine assignment into a bloodbath.

Cruise (and Foxx) will hog the headlines for playing against type, but Collateral is every inch Mann's movie. Historical baggage weighed the director down on Ali, but like many auteurs before him, he's more comfortable, and more effective, working within the confines of a genre movie. Or, to be more accurate, redefining what those very limitations can be. Just as young Turks are making a mark by brazenly stealing from the Michael Mann playbook, the master stylist pulls ahead of the pack once more. The musical cues are still bold, the location scouting typically inspired, but Mann's weapon of choice this time around is digital video, a tool that allows him to see farther and go deeper into the night than any previous director has dared. The electrifying result is an entirely new type of noir, one not defined by high contrast but by colour, an ever-shifting palette of purples, blues, browns and blacks. By night, Mann's LA is a bruise.

Meticulously constructed it may be, but Collateral is not without structural problems. After a jack-in-the-box first hour, when Max's cab swings right every time you are convinced it must turn left, the last act does slide inexorably towards convention. In place of surprise we are offered mere plot devices, the kind of cosmic coincidences only screenwriters truly believe in. And even as we demand the only possible conclusion – a showdown – we understand that it can never really satisfy.

Those who can recall Heat's airport climax will immediately identify the malaise. Not that Mann could ever consciously mount a lazy set-up, but he is understandably reluctant to let his film get out of the cab. After all, for as long as Foxx is at the wheel, Cruise is in the back and Mann's giving directions, this is the movie of the year.

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FILM REVIEW; Killer in a Cab, Doing His Job

By Manohla Dargis

  • Aug. 6, 2004

IN ''Collateral,'' the edgy new thriller from the director Michael Mann, the city never sleeps; it doesn't even relax. Set in Los Angeles mostly after dark, after the city's sunshine has given way to cool noir, the story centers on a taxi driver, Max (Jamie Foxx), and the assassin Vincent (Tom Cruise), who hops a ride with him deep into the night. As the pair cover the city, looping over interchanges and down wide open boulevards, they travel a landscape alive with wild animals and wilder men, noisy with unfamiliar music and chatter, and punctured by the hard pop of occasional gunfire.

Following a few preliminaries, including some flirty minutes with Jada Pinkett Smith as a harried passenger, the story gets down to its dirty business with Vincent jumping into Max's meticulously clean taxicab. Nattily turned out in a gray suit and matching salt-and-pepper hair and light beard, Vincent takes the story precisely seven minutes east of downtown.

With the meter running, Max waits for his fare, fetishistically poring over luxury-car brochures and fantasizing about the limousine company he hopes to start. Then a body lands splat on the roof of the taxi, shattering the cabbie's nerves and a large section of his front window, and Stuart Beattie's screenplay kicks into overdrive. Vincent, Max discovers to his horror, is a killer for hire, and this is only the first stop on what looks to be a very strange trip.

Wired for action, ''Collateral,'' which opens nationwide today, initially seems like a return to basics for Mr. Mann, as exemplified by ostensibly straight early films like ''Thief,'' about a safecracker in love, and a retreat from the more self-consciously serious films like ''Ali,'' his underrated movie about the legendary boxer.

The new film takes place against a backdrop that pits a drug cartel against law enforcement agencies presumably intent on shutting it down, and to that end features big, beefy men wielding big, scary guns and the jolting image of Vincent hitting his marks, specifically with two bullets to the chest and one through the head. But because Mr. Mann makes thrillers the way that John Ford made westerns, using genre as a way into meaning rather than as an escape, ''Collateral'' bears little relation to the usual Hollywood blowout.

That becomes evident as Max and Vincent drive through the emptied-out streets and the story shifts from a two-hander to a road movie, a tourist-board nightmare and a bloodied valentine to the director's adopted hometown. A portrait of radically different souls clinging to radically different paths, ''Collateral'' hinges on the moment when fate intersects with choice.

Vincent is clearly a nutcase, seething with inarticulate rage and locked-down demons, but he's also a man seemingly in charge of his destiny. For Max, who's been hanging onto his well-tended fantasy for years (''this is just part time,'' he repeatedly insists of his hack job), his passenger represents an imminent threat, but also a necessary wake-up call. For Mr. Mann, it always seems, there is nothing worse than a life on automatic pilot, not even death.

Mr. Foxx can't have had an easy time playing foil to the world's biggest movie star, but he holds his own gracefully. For his part, Mr. Cruise, whose famous self-discipline has helped turn him into a bankable personality and a less-than-believable regular guy, makes Vincent scarily convincing. Underappreciated as an actor, Mr. Cruise is most at ease when he can deliver a good portion of his performance through his body. He's an intensely physical performer, one whose jumping muscles and athleticism often express the inner workings of his characters more plausibly than any scripted line. Clad in the sort of form-fitting, slightly too-short slacks favored more by modern dancers and Gene Kelly than (I assume) contract killers, he plays Vincent from the outside in, as a citadel of physical perfection and ability.

That makes the star an ideal fit not merely for this role but for this director, whose male characters inevitably express themselves more through their deeds than their words. One of the signatures of Mr. Mann's films is that while his male characters tend to be tight-lipped (if often very loud and certainly dogged in their beliefs), the director's visual style and musical choices verge on the extreme, at times the operatic. Filled with incessant rhythms, washes of gaudy color and heartbreaking beauty, the films boldly convey the passions and deep feelings the director's men rarely voice. It's the sort of expressionistic gambit that pointedly makes the case that movies create meaning both with what's on the scripted page and with images of palm trees bobbing against a moonlit sky and the everyday Los Angeles surrealism of coyotes prowling an otherwise urban street.

Pitched between interludes of anxious intimacy and equally nerve-shredding set pieces, ''Collateral'' scores its points with underhand precision. The film is about a lot of different things, about how Los Angeles lights up at night, how cars become prostheses of ourselves and how driving with the radio on can be bliss. But as with all of Mr. Mann's movies, ''Collateral'' is finally about men and work, and about how being a man is itself a kind of job. (It's no wonder the director gives the Sears ''Craftsman'' logo a loving nod.) Whether chasing fictionalized serial killers or those serial killers who run tobacco companies, Mr. Mann's men risk everything -- happiness, women, life itself -- to get the job done, which explains why these fastidiously executed commercial films are not just entertainments, but statements of personal faith.

It's in this sense that despite the spent bullets and fallen bodies, ''Collateral'' is very much the product of a distinct vision, one as eager to push technological limits (the film was shot with the most advanced video cameras) as to upend the usual studio white-hero/black-villain formula. For the director, such casting isn't a sop to political correctness, but a reflection of his city's demographics. Unmistakably urban, Mr. Mann's Los Angeles is a city where not every black man knows how to handle a gun, where Korean and Latino revelers jam dance clubs rarely seen in pop culture and where a light-rail line nicknamed the Ghetto Blue promises salvation after a really, really bad night behind the wheel. Best of all, it's a city where, if someone asks with corrosive incredulity, ''Do you like it here?,'' the only plausible answer is, ''It's my home.''

''Collateral'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). The film includes a lot of very intense gun violence, some phony corpses laid out in an autopsy room and strong adult language.

Directed by Michael Mann; written by Stuart Beattie (the film has some Spanish with English subtitles); directors of photography, Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron; edited by Jim Miller and Paul Rubell; music by James Newton Howard; production designer, David Wasco; produced by Mr. Mann and Julie Richardson; released by DreamWorks Pictures. Running time: 115 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Tom Cruise (Vincent), Jamie Foxx (Max), Jada Pinkett Smith (Annie), Mark Ruffalo (Fanning), Peter Berg (Richard Weidner) and Bruce McGill (Pedrosa).

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  • Tom Cruise as Vincent; Jamie Foxx as Max; Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie

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Movie review.

Why does a hired killer keep killing? Why does a cab driver with a dream refuse to take any risks? These questions come into increasing focus when a hit man named Vincent hires a cab driver named Max to take him around Los Angeles for a night.

As the film unspools, we learn that Vincent has been hired to take out, in one night, five key witnesses in a federal case against a drug trafficking kingpin named Felix. When one of those bodies crashes into the roof of Max’s cab at their first stop, the well-dressed, efficient Vincent is forced to let the meticulous cabbie in on the plan—and force him at gunpoint to keep driving.

Although he looks for ways to escape Vincent’s fatal company, Max is also drawn to the killer’s professional sense of calm, control and fearlessness. In turn, the ruthless, brutal Vincent seems to grow fond of the cabbie, pushing him to take more control over his life. Along the way, Vincent makes Max go visit the driver’s mother in the hospital and urges him to call the pretty lawyer who gave Max her number earlier in the evening.

As the night wears on and the bodies pile high, the two develop a strange, uneasy chemistry, opening up to each other even as Vincent forces Max into greater areas of danger. Eventually, the tension builds past a violent nightclub clash with the police and FBI to a pivotal confrontation between the killer and the cabbie.

Positive Elements

Max is a man who takes pride in doing his job well, and he treats his customers with kindness and respect. He listens to their problems and tries to be encouraging. He also cares for his mother and visits her daily in the hospital, even though he feels she doesn’t respect him. A police officer refuses to give up tracking down the killer, and risks his life to save Max. Max shows courage when facing lethal criminals, and he also risks his life to save others. Max challenges Vincent’s warped view of the world.

Spiritual Elements

While Collateral features no overt spiritual content, the heart of the film is found between Vincent’s and Max’s perspectives on life and the nature of the universe. More below.

Sexual Content

Some women in a nightclub wear tight clothing while dancing to sensual beats. A couple in Max’s cab briefly utter some sexual references while fighting.

Violent Content

This story of a hired killer features lots of bloody, brutal killing. A body crashes onto the roof of Max’s cab. Two muggers are shot at point-blank range in a scuffle over a briefcase; one is shot again when the killer sees he’s not dead. Another man is shot two or three times in the forehead in the middle of a conversation. Several bodies are seen in a morgue, some with bullet wounds and blood.

As Vincent attempts to carry out a hit in a nightclub, necks and limbs are broken with loud crunches and snapping. A man is stabbed. Another is shot in the leg, causing blood to spatter. Many bystanders, federal agents and criminals are fatally shot.

A man intentionally causes a potentially fatal car accident. A man is shot several times, resulting in plenty of onscreen blood.

Crude or Profane Language

The language alone would have earned Collateral an R rating, with around 20 f-words and 30 s-words, in addition to the usual roundup of expletives. The names of God and Jesus are taken in vain several times. Vincent also forces Max to use strong profanity when talking to his boss.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A liquor ad adorns the top of Max’s cab. Vincent and Max visit a few nightclubs where characters are drinking.

Other Negative Elements

The police and FBI are shown to be ineffective due to selfish ambition and inter-agency squabbling. Vincent is particularly cruel to a victim he actually seems to respect. And Max—the good guy in all of this—ultimately throws aside respect for the law, resists arrest, handcuffs a police officer, steals his gun, pulls it on an innocent bystander and steals a cell phone. (His motivation is perfect; he’s determined to save a woman from being killed. But the message his actions send are another matter altogether.) Both Max and Vincent complain about the negative influence of their parents.

Director Michael Mann’s famous intensity and attention to detail serve him well in this tight, quickly paced, but brutal film. The washed-out, grainy, handheld shots lend his L.A. and the film a sense of emptiness. And the sparse jazz, classical and down-tempo soundtrack stretch the movie’s already moody, ambient feel.

Tom Cruise—sporting Raymond Burr’s short, gray haircut from Hitchcock’s Rear Window —delivers a killer who is coldly competent in his expensive suit. But somehow he’s not terribly menacing, maintaining violent but amiable control over his victims. Cruise effectively provides glimpses into Vincent’s turmoil through his features more than this dialogue.

Jamie Foxx, on the other hand, is instantly likable and lets you all the way into Max’s fragile, hopeful existence. Without breaking the tension completely, Cruise and Foxx even succeed in providing some genuine laughs.

Thanks to writer Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) , Collateral finds a deeper level than many films about stone-cold killers. Vincent is philosophical in his lethal professionalism. He loves to mimic his hero Miles Davis by improvising and adapting. Beattie described him this way to The Hollywood Reporter: “He’s the kind of guy you’d like to have around for dinner if it wasn’t for the fact that he killed people for a living.”

When pushed by Max to admit he’s a sociopath without the ability to feel for other people, Vincent responds angrily that in a world of 6 billion inhabitants on a planet that’s one among millions in the vastness of space, who really cares about one or two people. “Who notices?” he shouts.

In that exchange, Beattie captures the ultimately logical conclusion of a worldview that dismisses God in favor of randomness and chance. Why not kill if it will help you make the most of your limited time in existence? If we’re all just random “specks” accountable to no one, as Vincent calls us, where’s the real wrong in ending a few lives if that’s what you’re really good at? ( Especially if you’re as good as Vincent.)

Beattie’s script acknowledges Vincent’s evil, but offers only a weak counter to it. In a way, in fact, the view is validated as Max begins to realize he’s been too careful in his life, too fearful of risking much to get what he wants out of his short time on earth, leaving moviegoers with no happy, moral middle to such a hopeless worldview.

True, not everyone who shares the perspective that each human life is just lint on the surface of time turns into a hired killer. But the attitude shows up in other areas. On the way out of the screening I heard one guy in his late teens or early 20s openly admiring Vincent’s approach to life. Even if that young man never participates in violence as brutal and calculated as the decidedly unfriendly-for-families deeds pictured in this film, how will that attitude impact his relationships with friends, co-workers, a spouse, children? What “lesser” evil will he justify by rationalizing human life down to simple biology? How would his choices be different over the next 40 to 50 years if he could believe there is Someone who notices and that Someone also cares for him?

Vincent shows us that worldview perspectives matter because they become a map for the choices we make. But such deeply philosophical questions won’t be enough to convince many families that they’ll be helped by the choice to take in the graphic violence of this dark tale.

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Christopher Lyon

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By Peter Travers

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No crime film in years boasts a cooler vibe than Michael Mann’s dazzling Collateral , a head-spinning ride with the devil through a Los Angeles night that gleams with danger. Mann hits a new peak, orchestrating action, atmosphere and bruising humor with a poet’s eye for urban darkness. Reporting for duty as a stone-cold contract killer is Tom Cruise, who gives a dynamite performance by undercutting his heroic image even more than he did in Interview With the Vampire and Magnolia . As Vincent, hired by a narco trafficking cartel to off five trial witnesses in the ten hours between dusk and dawn, Cruise freezes all warmth out of his killer smile. With steel gray in his hair and a silver suit that fits him tighter than snakeskin, Cruise is like a cobra poised to spring. And when he does — just after he and a jazz trumpeter (a remarkable Barry Shabaka Henley) discuss what makes Miles Davis cool — the effect is electrifying. Cruise takes his game to a whole new level.atching him step for step is Jamie Foxx as Max, the cabdriver Vincent forces into chauffeuring him on his murder spree. If all you know of Foxx is from TV sitcoms and movie drool ( Breakin’ All the Rules ), you’re in for a shock. This is Foxx’s year (his upcoming turn as Ray Charles in Ray takes him to Oscar heights), with the revelations ting here as Max. Foxx fires up the screen with the power and subtlety of a born . And his teamwork with Cruise is a thing of beauty. p>ann and Aussie screenwriter Stuart Beattie build character out of small, telling details. Watch Max — who’s been hacking for twelve years while delaying his dream of owning a limo service — with his first customer of the night. She’s Annie Farrell (a fine, feisty Jada Pinkett Smith), a federal attorney who feels an unarticulated connection with blue-collar Max; she gives him her card. And watch Vince size up Max, especially his ability to know exactly how long it takes to get from one place to another in the city of damaged angels. Max bites for Vince’s offer of $600 to be his errand boy. But when the first body falls, splat, from a window onto Max’s cab, the driver wants out. It’s too late. Max has a corpse in his trunk and a gun to his head.p>ann stages action like nobody’s business — there’s a nightclub shootout that stands with his most thrilling work. But it’s the moral perspective in Mann films ( Thief , Heat , The Insider ) that brings depth and resonance. The cops (Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg) and the feds (led by Bruce McGill) peg Vince as a badass sociopath. Vince thinks he’s just “taking out the garbage.” Max’s hospitalized mother (the great Irma P. Hall) sees her son as a passive failure. Max thinks he’s just a victim of bad timing. In the film’s key scene — far more effective than the subway-chase climax — Max is forced to pretend he’s Vince to a drug lord, vividly played by Javier Bardem. Scared shitless, at first, Max ts to act like a tough guy and is exhilarated by his success.

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his clash of light and shadow is made even more gripping by Mann’s inspired decision to have cinematographers Paul Cameron and Dion Beebe shoot eighty percent of the film on high-definition digital video. The camerawork is groundbreaking, able to penetrate the murkiest depths. Nighttime in L.A., complete with three coyotes crossing in front of Max’s cab in mockery of the city’s thin hold on civilization, becomes Mann’s visionary peek into hell. Like Cruise and Foxx, Collateral wants to get under your skin. Does it ever.

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Neon Noir — Collateral- Movie Breakdown - Appreciation - StudioBinder

  • Scriptwriting

Neon Noir — ‘Collateral’ Movie Breakdown & Appreciation

F ew filmmakers are able to imbue simple, grounded genre stories with as much dramatic heft and visual style as Michael Mann. One of the “neon-noir” innovator’s greatest cinematic achievements is his action-thriller Collateral (2004) . If Heat was Michael Mann’s masterwork of the ‘90s, then the Collateral movie was his masterwork of the ‘00s and, arguably, his last great film to date. Collateral was Mann’s most successful film in terms of box office earnings. The film was made for a budget of approximately 65 million dollars and brought in a massive return of over 220 million dollars. Let’s take a look back at Collateral and examine what made it work so well.

What is the movie Collateral about

The story and style of collateral.

So, what is the movie Collateral about? Collateral makes use of a simple, clever premise that allows ample opportunity for both action and character exploration. To take a closer look at how the opening minutes of Collateral set everything in motion efficiently, we can bring the screenplay into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software.

Follow the image link to download a complete PDF of the script.

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Collateral movie screenplay

The Collateral movie cast is one of its greatest strengths. The protagonist, played brilliantly by Jamie Foxx, is a LA cab driver named Max who dreams of owning his own limousine business. But Max has been stagnating in his dead-end job for years. He has the ambition but not the drive or the follow-through. That’s where Vincent comes in.

Collateral - Far from being a generic Tom Cruise hitman movie

Far from being a generic Tom Cruise hitman movie

Vincent is the physical embodiment of drive and follow-through; an ordered, destructive force who comes crashing into Max’s life. Vincent does just as much to terrorize the cabbie as he does to motivate internal growth in him as a by-product of rigorous if dubious morality and meddling curiosity. 

Vincent, played by a top-of-his-game Tom Cruise in Collateral , is a hitman attempting the impressive feat of executing five targets over the course of a single night. The Cruise + Foxx duo would be enough to solidify the Collateral movie cast, but there are also supporting roles for Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Bardem.

Vincent enlists Max as his personal chauffeur for the night, at first through bribery and later through force. As the hits progress, Max is drawn deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld of Los Angeles. This video excellently breaks down this relationship between protagonist and antagonist and the way Collateral tackles it.

Video essay examining the BAFTA nominated Collateral film script

This is a supremely stylish film. In Collateral , Michael Mann’s trademark visual flair is at its peak. The “neon-noir” aesthetic that Mann first played around with in his debut feature, Thief from 1981, is refined to near-perfection in Collateral . The “cool factor” is through the roof. For more movies like Collateral , take a look at our list of the  best Neo-Noir films .

Tom Cruise Collateral film

Collateral is contained yet sprawling.

The scope of the movie Collateral is at once both largely sprawling and remarkably contained. The majority of the Collateral film is spent within the tight confines of an LA taxicab with our two main characters, and the entire Collateral movie cast consists of just three or four major players.

So, how does such as a restrained setup manage to play out in a way that feels grand in scale?

Tom Cruise in Collateral movie - Beautiful bokeh of LA lights

Tom Cruise in Collateral movie  •  Beautiful bokeh of LA lights

The Collateral movie functions as a tour of Los Angeles by night. From the empty sodium vapor streets to the neon-bathed bokeh , gang-run nightclubs, Collateral revels in showcasing the seedier side of Los Angeles that often goes unexplored on camera. Check out our rundown of unique filmmaking locations around LA that you can make use of in your own filmmaking projects.

To hear Michael Mann himself discuss the locations and other aspects, check out this behind the scenes on the making of Collateral .

Thorough behind the scenes documenting of Collateral

The location scouting step of Pre-Production is extremely important to Michael Mann’s creative process. He shoots as much as possible on-location rather than on sets. Mann is known to film pieces of an individual scene across a dozen different locations, combining them in the edit into the ideal location to suit his directorial vision.

Collateral Explained - Mann found the perfect overpass for this Collateral movie scene

Mann found the perfect overpass for this Collateral movie scene

The texture of a location informs character, tone, and substance in Mann’s films. With LA previously in Heat or in Chicago for  Thief , the moonlit city streets as viewed through the cab’s windows are a real highlight of the Collateral film.

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Tom Cruise hitman movie - Collateral 2004

The action: quality over quantity.

For an action-thriller, the amount of action in Collateral is certainly on the low side. One could argue that the premise of a hitman carrying out five executions in a single night should make for more action, but what action is there, is expertly handled. For a rundown of great action films, check out the best action films ever made .

In Collateral , Michael Mann takes a "quality over quantity" approach to action sequences. Mann’s films might not be full of straight-up action films, but he has proven himself to be a master of the cinematic gunfight.

His magnum opus of action scenes, the street-bound cops vs robbers battle in Heat , stands tall as one of best, if not the best, action shootouts of all time. Collateral and Heat both made it onto our list of the  best crime films . See what other movies like Collateral made the cut.

None of the action in Collateral is as big or jaw dropping as the centerpiece shootout in Heat. But Mann transferred his experiences making Heat into a smaller, more compact form that suits the story of the movie.

While making Heat , Mann realized that he preferred the diegetic sound of the real blanks being fired on the crowded LA streets over anything his sound designers could whip up. The authentic audio captured of the deafening gun blasts echoing off the high-rises was unlike any previously heard movie gunshots.

This added a new layer of realism and bombastic intensity to Heat , a layer which Mann carried over into the sound design of Collateral .

Tom Cruise as Vincent  •  Dispatching thugs with extreme efficiency

The action is both sparse and brief but carried out with a strong sense of realism that it is felt by the audience in a visceral way. The shootouts are short and punchy and more realistic than 99% of action films. Mann enlisted the same weapons and tactics trainer that he used in preparing the cast for Heat to train Tom Cruise in Collateral .

Cruise trained with live ammunition and rehearsed the choreography relentlessly for three months prior to shooting. All of that preparation truly paid off in the way he handles himself on camera.

Orchestrated chaos in a gang-run nightclub  •  Collateral (2004)

Mann’s extensive preparation regimens were put in place for the rest of the cast as well. Jamie Foxx spent countless hours driving with real cab drivers as well as practicing high-speed driving. And Mark Ruffalo, who plays a vice Detective, underwent similar extensive weapons training as Cruise, despite the fact his character never once fires his gun in the film. 

Some of Mann’s directorial quirks and requirements could be labeled as excessive but, for him, it all builds to a heightened sense of authenticity in the character which is reflected in the performances.

Collateral movie ending

Expertly crafted, yet not flawless.

Not all is perfect within Collateral . There are a few minor issues, such as a handful of odd soundtrack choices and a couple of moments where the picture quality is just a touch below ideal. This is most likely due to about 80% of the movie being shot on digital when it was still finding its footing. Mann even went as far as to claim that Collateral was one of the first movies to attempt a stylistic “look” using digital video.

There are a couple of more significant flaws in Collateral as well, unfortunately. While the performances never falter, there are a handful of exchanges between Max and Vincent that require a high level of suspension of disbelief. It could be a challenge to take in stride the expository chats between them when the conversation turns casual and the antagonism subsides.

The other major disappointment lies in the ending. While the closing line and final images are well handled, the overall ending concludes with a fizzle rather than a bang. It's a letdown in the action department, feels overly familiar and requires more suspension of disbelief. 

The following video essay offers an alternate view of the ending and an exploration on the role of masculinity in Collateral .

Collateral movie ending and themes analysed by Storytellers

Luckily, these issues are nowhere near enough to hamper the overall effectiveness of the film.

Collateral film

Elevated by outstanding performances.

While the plot of Collateral is tight and efficient, it isn’t the most daring or innovating script out there. Where the script excels is in the character department. It drills deeper into both the protagonist and the antagonist than one might expect from similar action-thriller films.

As a protagonist, Max is just complicated enough to be interesting and thoroughly likable. We want him to make it out of his unenviable situation and are on board for the escalating decisions he makes.

But for as good as Jamie Foxx is, the show is completely stolen by Tom Cruise as the villainous Vincent. This is without a doubt one of his best roles. The character on the page is already complex and intriguing, but Cruise adds multiple layers of depth and nuance that elevate the character and the film. 

If there is a single reason to watch Collateral , it’s for Vincent.

Collateral Explained - One of Cruise’s best performances

One of Cruise’s best performances

Collateral was a departure for both leads. The role of Max arrived at a time when Jamie Foxx was best known for his comedy, not a dramatic leading man. Collateral landed in theaters just two months before his Oscar-winning performance in Ray .

For Tom Cruise, Collateral was quite the departure as well. Usually the leading-man good guy,   this is one of the few films where Cruise goes against type for the “bad guy” role. Cruise also had a makeover to his usual look as well, which helped him disappear into character.

This scene is a strong showcase for both actors, not just as individuals but as a two-hander. The push and pull between them displays great chemistry and the balance professional actors bring to their job.

A showcase for both actors

Michael Mann believes in understanding even the smallest details of a character’s life regardless of whether those details make it into the film or not. In Collateral , Michael Mann wrote extensive biographies for both Max and Vincent. These covered the characters’ entire lives up until the beginning of the film, complete with anecdotes from childhood and photographs of where they grew up. It’s a complex way to imbue potentially simple, surface-level characters with a great deal more depth.

Road to Perdition Revisited

Collateral shines as one of the best films of the action-thriller sub-genre. The film’s legacy is well-deserved and it is essential viewing for any cinephile. If you enjoyed our look back at Collateral , then check out our revisiting of Sam Mendes’s Road to Perdition , a stylish Neo-Noir with memorable characters and set pieces.

Up Next: Perdition revisited →

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  1. Collateral (2004)

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  2. Collateral (2004)

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  3. Collateral (2004)

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  4. Collateral Review

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  5. Movie Review: Collateral (2004)

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