Of course, it's not just a steady and methodical thriller, it loops back on itself, tying up all loose ends and bookending the whole plot in a neat little package. Each of the segments where they drive to the next destination gives a chance for excellent character building as well as giving the audience a break from the brief moments of action (which steadily get longer and more intense as the film progresses). These are what good action films should be.
What's also interesting, upon a second viewing almost 14 years later, is how many recognizable actors are in this film. Some of them are bit parts, and they don't quite look like their more famous character portrayals, but inevitably you'll go, "Isn't that so-and-so?" From Jason Statham at the beginning, Jada Pinkett Smith on either end, Mark Ruffalo with some "ethnic-looking" facial hair, and Javier Bardem years before No Country for Old Men (2010). Most of these actors had not hit their stride quite yet, but Jamie Foxx definitely gave a great portrayal of a character who undergoes plenty of superb character development (which is partly why he was nominated for this film, along with Ray (2004) in the same year).
Quite the suspenseful thriller, Tom Cruise pulls off his part eerily well and Jamie Foxx portrays a quiet hero excellently. I give Collateral 4.5 stars out of 5.
We gave this movie a lot of praise, but we have to be picky as well and say that Collateral is by no means perfect. Jada Pinkett Smith's character, in the movie for all of 15 minutes, is oddly trusting to Foxx (she was a customer in his Taxi before Cruise) right away. This forced plot element paid off, though, as the writing really brought the movie full-circle in the end. Mark Ruffalo is also in this movie, and his presence is completely unnecessary. it's not that Ruffalo was bad. His character could have been cut and the movie would be the same.
All-in-all, Collateral is carried by the two lead performances and brilliant cinematography, even if the plot is at times convenient. We at Musicians on Movies agree that Collateral earns a B rating.
(Full review TBD)