Michael Mann perfectly mixes art and entertainment as a one masterful whole and the result is one of the most experimental and best modern film-noirs made so far. There are so many layers and nuances in this story of a cab-driver who runs into a assassin and gets thrown into a situation where there seems to be no way out.
As a story this might not be as epic as Miami Vice, The Insider or Heat, but that is exactly what makes it so fresh among other Mann's films. Making this more of a battle between two men in a limited space makes it much more psychologically richer than any of his earlier films.
There are many of Mann's trademarks visible here, including the constant use of different shades of colour blue and outstanding use of handheld camera, supported by master lenser Dion Beebe. This was actually the first one of Mann's films that was shot mostly in HD and boy it does look great and groundbreaking. Los Angeles has rarely never seemed so threatening and mysterious as it is here, only David Lynch's dark take on Los Angeles is something that can be compared to Mann's near hellish vision of L.A. It is like a maze made out of skycrapers and nightclubs, a place that never sleeps and where anything is possible. It is a city where nights glow eerily with millions of neon-lights, while industrial-factories lurks somewhere in the horizon, pumping dark pollution clouds to the sky.
One of the Collateral's real revelations will always be the superb performance by Tom Cruise, whose hired assassin is truly one of the most fierce killers in the history of cinema. It most certainly will stand as a career best performance for him. But i'm not saying that the other actors doesn't shine too. Jamie Foxx is a perfect match for Cruise, and Mark Ruffalo gives wonderfully nuanced performance as a detective who gets in the collision course with the suspenseful events.
This is a work of neon-lit art that takes us into a world of Michael Mann. I dare you to see this intense cat and mouse game that is hell of a intriguing film from start to finnish. It is art and suspense in a same pack.