By Nathan Kamal | Published
Tom Cruise is working harder than any 60-year-old actor can be expected to do. Cruise has been a leading man since before most of his fans were born and has managed to weather the many changes in Hollywood he must have seen over the decades. While he is currently on another career high with incredible box office returns and critical acclaim Top Gun: Maverick, the best movie Tom Cruise has ever made is just coming out on Netflix. This movie is from 2004 collateral, Michael Mann’s neo-noir that pitted Cruise as a casually murderous hitman against Jamie Foxx’s moderately ambitious cab driver. While it may not be one of Tom Cruise’s most popular films, it draws more from him than almost any other film and will hopefully gain a wider audience on Netflix when it arrives on September 1st.
collateral stars Tom Cruise as Vincent, a gray-haired, gray-suited assassin with an extreme sense of professionalism and an appreciation for jazz. The film opens with Cruise arriving at LAX airport in Los Angeles, just another anonymous man among thousands of busy businessmen trying to catch flights, make deals and get on with their lives. He then bumps into Jason Statham, they casually exchange briefcases with a few lines of clearly artificial words, and things are out. While Jason Statham’s character no longer appears, the director of his then-explosive Transporter franchise has said he thought he was playing the same Frank Martin character in collateralwhich is a nice little easter egg.
As Tom Cruise slowly makes his way to Los Angeles via Netflix for reasons still unknown but clearly grim, we meet Jamie Foxx as cab driver Max Durocher. In Michael Mann’s extremely direct and immediate directorial style, we see that Jamie Foxx is incredibly neat, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Los Angeles network, and can charm a lawyer played by Jada Pinkett-Smith if you catch it at the right moment. Then Tom Cruise leans into his cabin window to see if he’s available.
In one of the film’s best touches, Jamie Foxx is so giddy about hooking up with Jada Pinkett-Smith that he doesn’t even notice Tom Cruise at first. Without a trace of irritation, Tom Cruise starts walking into the next cabin, but that’s not what happens in this particular movie coming to Netflix. Instead, Jamie Foxx apologizes, turning the entire movie into a “what if?” scenario. After measuring Jamie Foxx’s efficiency, Tom Cruise offers to pay him $700 to be his personal driver for the night, making exactly five stops. Against his better judgment (and taxi rules, which seem more important to him), Jamie Foxx agrees and his whole world explodes.
Each of the five stops is an assassination mission for Tom Cruise. Along the way, the mismatched pair are drawn into an increasingly tense conversation and emerge as ideological opposites. Jamie Foxx is all about routine, predictability and playing by the rules. On the other side of the glass divider in his cockpit, Tom Cruise is all about improvising, adapting and changing his plan as often as necessary to achieve his goal. They also get surprisingly close emotionally, with Tom Cruise insisting on visiting Foxx’s ailing mother in the hospital and Foxx, against all odds, managing to uncover some raw nerves beneath Vincent’s charming skin.
The key to collateral it’s not just that Tom Cruise is one of our great action stars (and that Michael Mann is one of our great action directors). It’s that instead of playing Vincent as dark and silent (as Jason Statham might) or unstoppable or independent inhumane, Tom Cruise portrays the killer as surprisingly lovable and charming. It becomes clear that this is just one of the many tools in his arsenal, but pairing Tom Cruise’s sometimes intimidating charisma with a killer who can clearly turn it on and off at will is inspired casting. It’s also probably the only film in which Tom Cruise plays a straight-up villain; even when Cruise plays an actual Nazi in other movies, he still manages to be somewhat of a good guy.
Jamie Foxx plays Max just as well, just as out of control when he’s out of his element as Vincent is constantly adjusting; originally, the role was intended for Adam Sandler, who bowed out due to scheduling problems. While Jamie Foxx plays it well, it’s hard not to imagine that pairing of Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler as something extraordinary.
collateral was a minor hit for Tom Cruise, earning $220 million at the box office. Of course, a minor hit for Tom Cruise is a huge blockbuster for anyone else, with the film becoming Michael Mann’s highest-grossing film ever. It was met with mixed reviews upon release (partly due to Michael Mann’s use of the latest digital cameras), but is considered one of the best films of the early 2000s and one of the highlights of Tom Cruise’s career. as an actor. Starting September 1st, you can decide for yourself when this Tom Cruise movie comes to Netflix.