Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Relying on a car radio’s “seek” button is dangerous — especially when driving in foreign territory. But on those really good trips, perhaps deep into the night, you’ll hit a string of great songs — exactly what you want before moving onto another format.
2004’s Collateral felt a lot like that sort of radio-roulette gamble — Bach’s quiet lullaby rhythms, rock ‘n’ roll moments like the buildup to an intense throwdown, jazz punctuation with gunshots like the pop of a snare and even techno as chaos and precision bounced off one another in a nightclub melee.
Even with what might seem like a standard action-thriller, Michael Mann creates a musical-mood mixtape blended with blockbuster beats of humor and slam-bang tension we come to expect from the genre.
Los Angeles has never looked as glittery and dangerous as in this story of a hitman (Tom Cruise) commandeering a cabbie (Jamie Foxx) to chauffeur him to several murders. Top-end digital-video cameras bring a grinding urgency to the action and a woozy beauty to the backdrops.
Cruise and Foxx make unlikely sparring partners jiving about fate and feelings — sharing detached occupational professionalism. This was the first time Foxx delivered on dramatic-actor hype promised about him, and Cruise launched full-tilt into an aggressively psychotic antihero, sending forth ideas and actions in menacing waves.
Yes, Collateral concluded with a climactic parade of is-he-or-isn’t-he-dead spooks (like an unavoidable bleating Top 40 song you can’t avoid). But the rest felt as unpredictable, but on key, as an extended improvisation.