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PCR # 229  (Vol. 5, No. 33)  This edition is for the week of August 9--15, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

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In Honor of the Nol-Meister....Bush Speak
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Happy Birthday....Movie Lines....Movie News....Next, Please....Passing On....Meet The Beatles, Part 29
 by Mike Smith
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Dreamworks Pictures     
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Irma P. Hall
Directed by: Michael Mann
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours

Tom Cruise is always good. But when he's bad..........look out! In the past, he's stepped out of movie star mode with incredible results. His bad boy brother was the saving grace of "Rain Man." As real life Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in "Born on the Fourth of July" he earned his first Academy Award nomination. I still think his best work was as Frank T.J. Mackey in "Magnolia." And in "Collateral," Cruise adds another great performance to his long list of credits.

"Collateral" is a story about one night in Los Angeles. Cab driver Max Durocher (Foxx) is beginning his evening shift as he always does, making sure his cab is spotless. One of his first fares is a pretty young lady (Smith) who is impressed with Max's ability to guess the exact length of time her trip will take. We learn that Max wants to own his own limousine business, which is why he's driving a cab. Later in the evening, Max picks up Vincent, who tells him he's in town for one night to close a few "deals." He gives Max a few hundred dollars to keep him for the night and they head off into the night. However, Max's night changes forever when the first "client" Vincent visits ends up on the roof of his cab, having "fallen" from a 3rd floor balcony. It is then that Vincent reveals that he is actually a contract killer and that Max will be his driver for the night, no questions asked. When Max tells him, "but, it ain't my job," Vincent replies, "tonight it is". And so our adventure begins.

I don't know how to explain the past month of movie releases. During the summer, when most movies are mindless extravaganzas meant to appeal to the masses, we are very lucky to get one good film for the over-21 crowd. Hello "Bourne Supremacy." Wait, TWO good films for the over-21 crowd. Hello "Manchurian Candidate." Now, with "Collateral," we have THREE films that keep us entertained without ice storms, women in cat suits or trips to White Castle.

Director Mann, as he did in his previous Los Angeles based film, "Heat," has managed to capture the feel of the town. Shooting on high definition video, he is able to use only the lights provided by the story, be they a single stop light or the plaza of a skyscraper. Mann shoots his characters in extreme close-ups, letting us look into the eyes of Max and Vincent, and, in a way, into their souls. Cruise is there to do a job, even though he does his best to separate himself from his work. When a "client" is killed, he blames the bullets, or the fall to the ground. Foxx more then holds his ground with Cruise. In a matter of one night he goes from a quiet man who has yet to reach his goals to a man willing to stand firm for his beliefs and what he thinks is right. His work in "On Any Sunday" and "Ali" proved that he was more then just a comic trying to make it as an actor. Here he goes toe to toe with the biggest movie star in the world and more then meets the challenge. The supporting cast is equally up to the level of the leads and Smith shows a side of her that was definitely wasted in the "Matrix" films. Ruffalo is well cast as a detective who feels the increasing death toll is the work of one person and Hall is hilarious as Max's straight-talking mother.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Collateral"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Collateral" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.