What Happened to Collateral?

1 month ago
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If Heat and The Insider are agreed upon as Michael Mann’s all-time best films, what is the director’s most underrated feature to date? Is it Thief? The Keep? Manhunter? Public Enemies? Nah. There’s only one acceptable answer: 2004’s criminally overlooked nocturnal neo-noir Collateral. Featuring a rare villainous turn by Tom Cruise and a restrained Oscar-nominated performance by Jamie Foxx, the L.A. crime story was the first film in history to utilize the Viper FilmStream High Definition Camera. The digital format that David Fincher would later adopt for use on Zodiac and Benjamin Button. Beyond the cutting-edge technology, the remote locations Mann and his production team gave viewers a much different glimpse of Los Angeles away from the glamor of Hollywood and into the seedy, sinister parts of town rarely seen on the big screen.

Believe it or not, Collateral was conceived by screenwriter Stuart Beattie when he was 17 years old after taking a taxi home from an airport in Sydney, Australia. Before Mann, Cruise, and Foxx boarded the project, the movie was to be directed by City of God’s Fernando Meirelles, and Russell Crowe was attached to play the suave, calculated hitman Vincent. If it weren’t for Crowe’s interest, Mann possibly never would have landed in the director’s chair. Remember, Mann and Crowe had made The Insider a few years earlier and were actively looking to reunite for a worthy follow-up. For this and a whole lot more, it’s time to discover What Happened to Collateral as the movie celebrates its 20th anniversary this August.

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