Tom Cruise deserves an Academy Award, though with such fierce competition this year, he will not be in the running for best actor this year. |
For Jerry Maguire (1996) Cruise should have been named best actor, and three years later should have earned the award for best supporting actor for his seething performance in Magnolia (1999). Other nominations should have come for best supporting actor in The Color of Money (1986), best actor for Rain Man (1988), in which he gave the strongest performance, and The Last Samurai (2003), for which he richly deserved a nomination only to be cruelly snubbed. He has shared the screen with screen legends Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men (1992), Robert Duvall in Days of Thunder (1990) and Gene Hackman in The Firm (1993) and come out just fine, matching the old gents step for step. Even in his most daring role, as the vampire Lestat in Interview with the Vampire (1994) despite a maelstrom of controversy when it was announced he would play the role, his toughest were silenced when they saw his fine performance. On his own he has held centre stage in major works such his Steven Spielbergís under rated masterpiece Minority Report (2002) a film Roger Ebert hailed as the finest of its year. He possesses the innate ability to balance being a movie star with being an actor, an artist striving to improve himself constantly and consistently.
Collateral, the stylish thriller from Michael Mann now on DVD, should have started that inevitable Oscar talk again for Cruise who gives a daring, intensely focused and fierce performance as a hit man who commandeers a cab driven by Jamie Foxx to escort him through the night from job to job. Cruise slips under the skin of the character he is portraying, Vincent, to deliver one of his strongest performances that should in any other year have garnered him the attention of the Academy. With his hair greyed for the role, there is something steely about his performance that suggests a man who has grown ice cold for all the wrong reasons and now is beyond any help. This is a major performance. Cruise stalks the screen like a shark on land with all the precision of a master of death, no regard for human life, and in the process becomes evil incarnate. What gives the performance its perversity is that Vincent loves what he does because he is so good at it.
The film looks sleek and strong, taking place over a single evening, and Man has given the picture the look of a film noir, but punctuated it with the fast cuts and editing style that dominates todayís films. While the director gives as a stunning visual film with strong directorial choices, there is no secret that this is an actorís film.
Jamie Foxx is a lowly cabbie who has the misfortune to pick up Vincent one evening, and is bullied into driving the killer from hit to hit over the course of the night. At first he is unaware of what his passenger is up too, but as he becomes aware, the tension inside the cab grows to an unbearable state. He moves through the night with the growing fear that he will be the last victim of the evening, something that annoys and frightens him.
The interplay between Cruise and Foxx is very strong, with both actors looking comfortable in their roles and with one another. It is a credit to Foxx that he keeps up with Cruise as he was not necessarily recognized as a dramatic actor when cast in the role. Now he is the odds on favourite to win the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Ray (2004)!!!
What a year Jamie Foxx has had; he may become the first African American nominated twice for Academy Awards in the same year, for best actor for his masterful work as Ray Charles and for best supporting actor for his work as Max.
Collateral moves like a sleek, swift barracuda through the water, the oceans replaced by the brightly light Los Angeles night; deliberate and deadly in its purpose, the film hurtles the audience through the night until the unpredictable conclusion.
Michael Mann won the best director award from the National Board of Review a short time ago, which drew the film into the Oscar circles. It seems a likely nominee for a handful of wards, but not likely for the big prize. His film takes us on an extraordinary journey through the Los Angeles night, piercing the darkness to show us every detail of what goes on in this crazy town after hours.
The DVD comes with loads of extras including extraordinary rehearsal footage of Cruise and Foxx, ads well as Michael Mannís exhaustive approach to directing that must be daunting to actors not prepared for this type of commitment. Equally good was the documentary about the making of the film and the decision to use High Definition as opposed to film stock.
Though not quite the masterpiece everyone was hoping for, Mannís film should do nicely on DVD as a welcome addition to any library. A solid piece of entertainment merged nicely with the art of Cruise.