The flashback setup. We start with a short burst of action, glimpsed in flashes, and finally end on a long shot showing the aftermath of a huge car crash. Right on schedule, we get a little voice-over from our protagonist, Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult), ruminating on something grand. This wheel-spinning exercise in imitation character leads into the movie's one minimally engaging section: the meet-cute between Casey and his future girlfriend Juliette Marne (Felicity Jones). Although there's an awkward humor to the way the moment in the script is about two Americans stumbling upon one another in Germany, Brits Hoult and Jones are charming together, and generate a little bit of sexy chemistry, illustrated in a montage that does a nice job of conveying a month or two passing in their relationship. Then, unfortunately, it's onto other business.
The dueling bad guys. Collide has the pleasure, as so many modern low-budget thrillers do, of playing host to top-shelf talent slumming it on a quick gig. In this case, we get Oscar winners Ben Kingsley as Geran, a low-level Turkish drug kingpin, and Anthony Hopkins as Hagen Kahl, his high-class supplier. The plot is set in motion when Geran asks for something Hagen refuses to grant him -- not necessarily more money, but equal respect. It's an interesting idea, the notion of Geran (and the plot) being driven by pride instead of greed, but neither actor seems to know what tone they should be going for. Kingsley swings for the fences, making Geran a drugged-out eccentric whose compelling speech about wanting to be true partners gives way to tiring "wacky" drug antics later in the film. Hopkins, meanwhile, goes lazy Die Hard, a droll villain with odd outbursts of Lecter-like ferocity. Neither connect, and so Hagen becomes boring.
The conflict. With the rift between Geran and Hagen in place, it's revealed that Juliette needs a kidney transplant that neither she or Casey can afford. Casey used to be one of Geran's drivers, but quit the night he first met Juliette because she didn't like him doing it. Although she makes him promise not to return to his old job, he does so behind her back. Much like Geran's desire to be treated as legitimate next to his classier partner in crime, there is a potentially interesting wrinkle in the idea that Casey's choice ultimately puts Juliette in danger rather than being a force to help her, but the film only devotes a single scene to this idea, between Casey and...a gas station attendant. There's even a great moment during a wreck that would serve as a perfect metaphor, but it's more of a flashback to better times. Instead, the film waves this away with some winky humor, something co-writer and director Evan Creevy isn't good at.
Everything else. If there's one thing that's especially stunning about Collide, it's that the film gets its perfunctory parts backward. The movie sticks faithfully to the old, tired "girl gets kidnapped" formula, and yet those early relationship scenes are the only part of the film that's any good. There's a real lack of energy to the movie's many car chase and shootout sequences, even when Hoult tries his best to sell his increasingly frantic mental state. Aside from a good shot here and there -- a thug leaping from a dock onto the roof of Casey's car, a nice wreck that sends a van spinning into the air -- Collide simply goes through the motions. Since we don't care much about the person driving the car or anything happening in the story, it's no fun to watch Casey flee over and over again in a new set of wheels (not to mention, the movie very awkwardly unveils some plot information after the fact in a way that feels like cheating, and really pushes the boundaries of disbelief in orchestrating some of Casey's escapes).
The Video and Audio
Trailers for Sleepless, Split, Before I Fall, and Death Race 2050 play before the main menu. From there, a different set of trailers is offered: Bleed For This, Snowden, Triple 9, The Gunman, Spotlight, Rosewater, Nightcrawler, and End of Watch. No trailer for Collide is included.