07 August 2004

Three weeks, three great thrillers: The Bourne Supremacy, The Manchurian Candidate, and now Collateral, which may be the lushest, most textured B-movie I've seen in years. It features two of the most ambitious men in Hollywood, Michael Mann and Tom Cruise, working on a studiously modest scale, and although I vaguely wish that these two guys had tackled something of more epic dimensions, it's hard to argue with a movie this tasty. It falls below the level of the great Tom Cruise "problem" pictures that ran from Eyes Wide Shut through Minority Report, but Cruise himself seems to be having a better time than he usually does, and his deadpan "Yo, homies!" may be the best catchphrase he's ever had.

Collateral also makes me want to revisit Thief, Michael Mann's first movie, and arguably his best, with James Caan as a retired safecracker enlisted by the mob for one last heist. The story may be old, but the ending isn't: Thief's last twenty minutes set a standard for orgies of revenge that still hasn't been surpassed, and I can't think of that movie's incredible final shot, with Tangerine Dream pulsating on the soundtrack, without feeling a genuine chill or two. It's well worth the rental if you haven't seen it yet.

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