Collateral is the title of Michael Mann's upcoming movie, a police thriller starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx (no, he's not a pornstar) and Jada Pinkett Smith, which will come out on my birthday in the US. I wouldn't node a movie without having seen it if it wasn't a Michael Mann movie -- understand, I just love the guy (and he makes only three movies per decade). Every film he's made is simply exceptional, and Collateral looks like it's going to be no, er, exception. From a few news gathered here and there and the trailer my impressions are extremely good: each time I see the trailer, I am reminded of how much I loved his previous police thriller Heat, and why.

The Pitch:
After witnessing a murder, a cab driver is taken hostage by the murderer, a professional hitman, and has to drive him around the city to each of the hits he has to carry out.

The story itself is a great idea, putting two men with separate lives in a situation where they have to confront each other much like in Heat, although the situation itself is very different: Cruise and Foxx will be together for the whole movie, the latter under the former's authority, instead of being portrayed as equals who play cat and mouse with each other like Bob and Al. Another quite important difference is that the two main men of Heat were played by two of the most charismatic actors in the history of film, and while I don't have anything against Cruise or Foxx, it just ain't the same league (sorry guys). However since Michael Mann is such a great director of actors (just look at what he was able to pull out of Will Smith) I have no worries about the cast's performance.

Cruise seemed like an unwise choice for the main character, since he's always casted as a one-size-fits-all action hero, but he looks surprisingly good in this trailer, like a genuine character and not the-guy-from-Mission-Impossible-and-Minority-Report-and-The-Last-Samurai. He's been given salt and pepper hair, a bit of fashionable stubble, and a generally older, rugged look, much like Sam FisherDe Niro's character from Heat, also a ruthless, professional outlaw.

The whole trailer is a beautiful showcase of Mann's pairless moviemaking talent. I grinned when I saw the Mann gimmick of a very wide shot on 35mm followed by a grainy DV close up of a character's face. These shots, like all the others, are lit and photographed with vibrant colors, and excellent composition. His editing, as always, is flawless. Although only the minimal amount of action required for a Hollywood trailer is shown, it looks very promising. Heat (perhaps you see a pattern developing) is the only entirely realistic action film I've seen and seeing Cruise shoot a pistol with a proper stance instead of the usual nonsense* says volumes about what the rest of Collateral's action is going to be like: realistic, brutal, rough, masterfully shot and positively gripping.

To sum things up, Collateral looks set to be a fantastic punch in the face. Heat never got the success it so richly deserved because of its running time (critics said it should have been one hour shorter -- while I would've preferred it two hours longer), and it looks as if Mann has decided to put all of the elements that made it so great in a two-hour bombshell. I, for one, cannot wait to see how it compares to my expectations.



* Don't get me wrong, I don't equate realism with quality, and I don't mind (quite on the contrary) purposefully irrealistic gunplay when it is part of the style of such talented directors as John Woo or Quentin Tarantino, but when this irrealism is as useful to the integrity of the film as masturbation is to the perpetuation of the human species (Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, I'm looking at you) it is, and this is an understatement, fucking annoying.