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Collateral (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital)

Paramount // R // December 8, 2020
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted December 17, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

I've said it before and will say it again now; this experience of Hollywood studios putting their catalog on 4K allows me to experience films again much in the same way I did when the catalog trickled out to Blu-ray, or going from VHS to DVD. Hopefully, these things become less and less because at some point they're going to start cheating viewers from original creative intent. Thankfully we're not there at this point yet, so in the meantime, bring on the retrospective appreciations!

Pretty basic setup here; Jamie Foxx (Any Given Sunday) is Max, a cab driver working the graveyard shift in Los Angeles. He picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise, American Made) on a fare, and he knows nothing about him, and we know barely more than he does. Vincent gives Max enough money to take care of his night, so long as Max drives him to several trips he has to make overnight. He learns quickly that Vincent is a contract killer, and trying to ditch Vincent would surely result in Max' death, so he tries to survive the night, in this script from Stuart Beattie (Australia) and directed by (Heat).

Way back more than 15 years ago when the film came out, I remembered the hook of cabbie Foxx taking fare Cruise around town, with a District Attorney (Jada Pinkett Smith, Magic Mike XXL) appearing in the first and third acts. But I did not remember much of it since seeing it when it got to video shortly after its 2004 theatrical run, and what took me this time were the dueling character evolutions going on with Max and Vincent, and having Mann hang the crux of the film on the dynamic between Foxx and Cruise at that time (given Foxx' relatively new foray into dramatic films) was a bold choice.

Seeing it play out the way that it did was impressive, because Foxx is trying to do what's best for his work and is still hanging onto goals despite what turns out to be a degree of futility. Vincent's chances of getting to know Max bore this out, but also these things are elements that traditionally Vincent can't register with, but ultimately he tends to have some empathy Max for, and Max reciprocates it in other ways. The Stockholm Syndrome Max has for Vincent is fascinating, though at times can appear a little bit painful (witness Max trying to acquire some equipment for Vincent, in front of a pre-Coen Brothers Javier Bardem).

There are other supporting characters within the film; Peter Berg and Mark Ruffalo (along with Mann stock company player Bruce McGill) play cops that are trying to figure out who is doing the evening's killings, but the story's focus is rightfully on the trip Vincent and Max take together, the things that they learn from each other, and their evolution makes for a compelling ride through the third shift of Los Angeles, where a different culture seems to take hold, where coyotes roam the streets and where Vincent has jobs to do and Max needs to take him to them.

The UHD:
The Video:

Remember way back in 2004 & 2005 when Collateral came out and you wondered about the look of the film because it was sort of unique since it was shot on high-definition cameras and being moved to film, so it looked weird? That may have been me, but nevertheless, the technology has caught up to the film and the result looks superb. Image detail in Foxx' face and hair is sharp, and the black levels in the film are excellent. The club sequence has lots of light and color (mostly blue), and there's a moment when the guy falls out of the cab that spots some vivid reds. The upside of forgetting about this movie is I kind of enjoyed seeing it again via Dolby Vision.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is excellent. Dialogue is well-balanced and directional effects are present and effective, as is channel panning and immersion. Take the sequence where Cruise and Foxx are in the club and Moby's music is clean with low-end providing some punch. Gunfire either in close quarters or broader soundstages echoes through the channels and is powerful, and in closer dynamic sequences like the jazz club the music bounces off the walls in the small venue. It sounds really good.

The Extras:

The material from the Blu-ray release have been brought to this edition, largely because the Blu-ray is on a disc next to the 4K one. Mann's commentary is a good one, where he gets into the story and some of the background of the shots. Scene breakdown and information on lenses is discussed. There is some watching of the film but he also gets into character backgrounds that was not included in the film. He even gets into jazz recaps! All in all it's a nice listen into the production. Next is "City of Night," (40:59), the making-of on the film where Mann gets into the story and script, and the actors get into the roles and working with Mann. Cruise gets some focus on gunwork and on hand to hand combat which was used in the film, along with stunt driving and hanging out with cab drivers. Location and production design is touched upon as is the score, and it is a nice look into the film. "Special Delivery" (1:09) gets into trying to get Cruise in disguise, while "Shooting on Location" (2:34) gets into the shots at Annie's office. There is a deleted scene (1:57) with commentary by Mann, and some rehearsal footage with Cruise and Foxx (4:13). There is a look at the MTA train shot in the film (2:27) to go with the teaser (2:11), trailer (2:18) and digital copy of the film with the two discs.

Final Thoughts:

In Collateral you get a movie that puts two actors (mostly) in a confined space and starts them talking as you would expect to happen organically. Then get out and in and the things they go through and learn about one another feel like shared things that make them envious of the other, and we get both perspectives, delivered well, and makes for a better film than you would expect based on the elevator pitch. Technically the disc looks good and sounds even better, and the extras would appear scant but have weight behind them and complement the film itself. If you have not seen it, take a gander at it, and if you have seen it, give it another look, though were you to buy it, you're only buying the UHD presentation which is good, but not amazing.

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