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The Matrix Resurrections (2021) Review

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The Matrix Resurrections

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson/Neo
Carrie-Anne Moss as Tiffany/Trinity
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus
Jessica Henwick as Bugs
Jonathan Groff as Smith
Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst
Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski

To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of — or into — the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before.

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I really didn’t know what to expect from The Matrix Resurrections. I had previously watched the original trilogy some time ago, but I only just liked those movies and I wasn’t such a huge fan of them (even when it comes to the original). Then I watched the trailers for Resurrections and my interest shot up immediately, compelling me to revisit the original trilogy right before the new film. In my more recent rewatches of the trilogy I found that I was liking it a lot more, especially the sequels despite how divisive they were. So I was looking forward to the latest instalment, and I’m happy to say that Resurrections delivered in what I was hoping.

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Something you’ll see in every review for The Matrix Resurrections is the word ‘meta’, and the film is definitely very meta. I won’t go into detail as to the specifics of the plot, its worth checking out for yourself. However a noticeable part of it is very much is a commentary on IP culture and the commodification and exploitation of IP, as well as criticising blockbusters (mainly reboots). While some might consider the self-aware aspects annoying, I actually loved them, and it’s a very bold addition. In a way you could make a comparison between Resurrections and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. In a sense, some of the meta aspects are dropped once it leaves its first act and becomes more of a continuation of the Matrix story, though honestly the meta aspects could’ve felt tired when pushed longer so it was probably for the best. The second act is admittedly on the slower side and not quite as strong as the first or third acts, but I was nonetheless engaged with what was happening. Then it moves into its third act which I found incredibly gratifying and satisfying to watch.

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Something that I admire about the Wachowskis is that they are making the movies that they want to make and not really catering to the audience, which is most evident in their sequels with Reloaded, Revolutions, and now Resurrections. This is something that’s established from the meta first act, and Resurrections is essentially the creators reclaiming their franchise nearly 20 years later. While there is some nostalgia including references and returning characters, its still very much a personal movie with lots to say, and is very heartfelt and sincere. This is the most emotionally charged of the four films by far, from the emotional core of the story with Neo and Trinity, to just the feeling behind the whole film. As typical of it being a Matrix movies, there are a lot of themes at play. Along with the commentary and deconstruction of IP cinema, it still maintains the metaphors and themes of the original trilogy including systems and identity. Themes aside, Resurrections still does find a way to build upon the lore and continue the story in a way that I was satisfied with. While it certainly establishes some things which could be built upon in future films, I’m actually very comfortable with Resurrections being the conclusion of the whole series.

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I really liked the acting in the movie, everyone was really good in their part. Keanu Reeves in this movie isn’t only his best performance in a Matrix movie, but one of his best performances in general. He’s good throughout but he’s particularly great in the first act. Carrie-Anne Moss also returns as Trinity, and she was also great. She’s not in the movie as much as you’d expect, especially when it’s a movie about her and Neo, but she’s really good in her screentime. My biggest criticism of the first Matrix movie is that the central romance came out of nowhere at the end and wasn’t convincing. The sequels fixed this and made it believable, and Resurrections is no exception. While you don’t see Trinity as much as you would like, their connection is nonetheless a vital part of the movie and the essential emotional core. This movie very much builds off their established connection into something more, and for what its worth, Reeves and Moss have the best chemistry here out of the four movies, and they feel very believable.  The new additions to the cast were great too, mainly Jessica Henwick as Bugs and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, or rather a new Morpheus. Addressing the elephant in the room, there is an explanation as to while the real Morpheus as played by Laurence Fishburne isn’t here. I like how Yahya doesn’t try to replicate Fishburne and is very much doing his own thing. Neil Patrick Harris was probably the biggest surprise in the movie. He plays Keanu’s psychologist known as The Analyst, but he has a far greater role in the movie, and proved to be a very different kind of antagonist compared to Smith. Speaking of Smith, that role this time is played by Jonathan Groff. While it definitely is disappointing not seeing Hugo Weaving reprise his role, Groff’s version is nonetheless interesting to watch, especially with how different he is. He doesn’t try to replicate Weaving and that really was for the best, and he’s wonderfully chewing up the scenery. There are also some welcome return actors and characters like Jada Pinkett Smith and Lambert Wilson in their roles.

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Lana Wachowski, one half of the Wachowski sisters, returns to direct the next Matrix movie. I thought her work here was great. It’s certainly feels very different stylistically to The Matrix which some might take issue with. But I feel like its less like she lost her Matrix touch and more like her filmmaking style has evolved since 18 years ago, and I appreciate how it feels very different rather than trying to recapture the original trilogy’s style. The cinematography is great, it certainly feels very different than the first three movies with the colour pallet and style, but I loved it, especially with the use of colour. The visual effects are fantastic too, and it’s quite something seeing a Matrix movie in the 2020s with modern technology. Watching is on the big screen was an incredible experience. The biggest complaint that some people will have is about the action, and the action is one of the most known parts of the movies. To be blunt, aside from one or two sequences, the action in Resurrections doesn’t rank amongst the best action of the franchise, there’s not much like the Freeway Chase in Reloaded or the final battle between Neo and Smith in Revolutions. There’s also not that many action scenes in the film. With that being said, I do like the action, and there are some moments in the third act which really stand out. In saying that, the action definitely isn’t a focus point compared to the previous three movies. Lana Wachowski is clearly more interested in the themes, plot and character and I respect that. The score from Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer is great, very reminiscent of Don Davis’s score from the original trilogy, with the same feel and atmosphere. It really elevates the action scenes particularly.

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The Matrix Resurrections is one of the most ambitious and creative blockbusters I’ve seen in a while. It’s meta and nostalgic while having enough changes to feel fresh for the franchise. Its entertaining, subversive, bold but also personal and heartfelt, with an enthralling story and is excellently directed. Resurrections is already proving itself to be an incredibly divisive movie. If you aren’t such a fan of the Matrix sequels you might not be into it. But for what its worth, as someone who loves the Matrix sequels, I loved this film and its one of my all-time favourite movies from 2021.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Review

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The Matrix Revolutions

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Neo, humanity’s only hope of stopping the war and saving Zion, attempts to broker peace between the machines and humans. However, he must first confront his arch nemesis, the rogue agent Smith.

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I rewatched the first two Matrix movies earlier in the year in preparation for the fourth movie, The Matrix Resurrections. However I ended up just rewatching the first two movies and didn’t get around to completing the trilogy. As it was approaching the release date of the newest film, I decided to attempt to rewatch the whole trilogy again, and I’m glad I did. I’ll admit I wasn’t such a huge fan of these movies previously, even the original I thought was just decent. However in spite of my issues with it, along with it being an incredibly impactful, influential and technically impressive movie, The Matrix was a great film in itself. Even the more recent rewatch of Reloaded had me really liking it. It’s definitely messy and overstuffed but It was interesting, bold and ambitious with its ideas and I might’ve even enjoyed it more than the original. I was curious about how I would find Revolutions since I have only seen it once and I don’t remember much except that it seems to be the least liked out of the trilogy by many people. However I’m glad to say that I liked it about as much as the previous two films.

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Something noteworthy about The Matrix Revolutions is that it is very much a continuation from Reloaded, in fact you could say that the two movies combined are a singular sequel to The Matrix. So try not to watch them months apart or anything. The Matrix Reloaded had a ton of exposition for the lore and the themes, way more than the first movie. Revolutions has some of this but its not nearly as overwhelming. I do appreciate the dialogue in Reloaded from my rewatch (along with grasping what people were actually talking about), but I appreciate Revolutions easing off that a bit. It’s also not as convoluted, you don’t get a scene like the infamous Architect scene from Reloaded. It does seem to lean more into action scenes than long philosophical conversations about reason and purpose. With all that being said, Revolutions can still deliver on the ideas, and its certainly not short on ambition. Reloaded could feel a little bloated at points with both the themes and action being dialled up, and could feel a little unbalanced, Revolutions on the other hand feels more focused and consistent. Something that I know people don’t like about Revolutions is that there isn’t a whole lot of time in the actual Matrix. Most of the Matrix’s screentime take place in the first third, whereas most of the movie  takes place in Zion, the last human city. There’s even a very long battle in Zion against the machine which lasts well over 30 minutes. It can feel a little too long and no doubt they could’ve been shaved down those scenes a bit. However these scenes are nonetheless effective, with the action having a lot of tension and weight to them as the threat of the machines feel overwhelming and scary. Thankfully the Zion action isn’t the last action we get, as we get a final action scene taking place in the Matrix which I found very satisfying. I found the ending to be quite fitting and conclusive, and so I’m wondering how Resurrections will connect with it.

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Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne are back again in their roles of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus and I think they were really good once again. Like with Reloaded, is also a lot of focus on the romance between Neo and Trinity. Their relationship was one of the worst parts of the first movie because there was virtually no chemistry between the actors, and with the writing, it just sort of comes out of nowhere in the film. However this is mitigated in Reloaded and Revolutions, and the scenes between these two are particularly great. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith continues to be a considerably scene chewing and highly enjoyable villain. Whereas in Reloaded he was a supporting villain who occasionally showed up to be a problem, here he takes on an even larger villainous role. He steals every scene he’s in and is one of the highlights of an already great film.

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The Wachowskis direct this incredibly well as expected, and it’s great on a technical level. The Matrix movies all look amazing, but this is probably the best looking of the trilogy, from the scenes in the matrix to the scenes in Zion. The action scenes and set pieces are impressive, and even the CGI holds up well (at least compared to some of the CGI in Reloaded). We only get about a third of the movie in the Matrix, but those gunfights and battle scenes are nonetheless impressive. The divisive battle between the humans of Zion and the Sentinels was actually quite impressive, if a bit too long and chaotic. It’s a real spectacle from the visual effects to the scale, and the Sentinels feel more scary and unstoppable than they have ever before. The real highlight action scene for me is the climactic fight between Neo and Smith, playing out like a big anime fight. Like all the Matrix movies, it’s unapologetically over the top, and while that might be seen as ‘too much’, it only makes the movie better for me. Don Davis’s dramatic choral score is epic like in the previous movies, and really elevates the tension and scale in many of the scenes.

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The Matrix Revolutions is a very divisive conclusion to the original trilogy, but one that I really liked. It may have some of the typical Matrix issues like some clunky and stiff dialogue, and some occasional messiness, but on the whole it succeeds. The themes and the direction the story go in was impressive, and the technical aspects and action are enthralling to watch. At risk of going off topic, I have to say that there is something quite refreshing watching the Matrix sequels, as the Wachowskis take the follow ups to their critically acclaimed movie in the directions they want to take them, regardless of what audiences want, and I will always appreciate when filmmakers do that. Even if they don’t 100% work, the sequels are ambitious if nothing else, and I’m glad to be one of the people who really like the sequels as much as the first movie. After being successfully ‘Matrix Pilled’ for all 3 movies, I’m looking forward to seeing how The Matrix Resurrections turns out.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Review

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The Matrix Reloaded

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & sex scenes
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Harold Perrineau as Link
Randall Duk Kim as Keymaker
Gloria Foster as The Oracle
Director: Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski

At the Oracle’s (Gloria Foster) behest, Neo (Keanu Reeves) attempts to rescue the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) and realises that to save Zion within 72 hours, he must confront the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis). Meanwhile, Zion prepares for war against the machines.

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The Matrix sequels aren’t the most beloved of movies, but I remember being one of the people who enjoyed them. I was familiar enough with the first Matrix movie, however I hadn’t watched the sequels more than once each. So I thought I should check them out again, especially as the fourth film would be coming in 2021. Overall, I do like The Matrix Reloaded even though it definitely has a lot of very visible issues.

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The Matrix Reloaded really does feel like The Wachowskis letting loose and in some ways it was nice to see them go all out on everything. However, it also resulted in the movie being quite overindulgent and bloated, and in some ways it made the movie work against itself. The script at many points was a bit unfocused, not helped by the weird pacing. While there were some interesting parts, I found much of the movie to be boring and bland at points. Reloaded couldn’t find the balance between exposition and action like the first one did, doing away with the careful structure, and replacing it with a fairly complex but messy and convoluted plot with nonsensical philosophical overtones. The film throws so much information at you, and a lot of the time, I was not able to follow what was going on. Even thinking back on it after a more recent viewing, it’s hard to remember the key plot points. The first Matrix movie had a lot of people talking and having very serious conversations about high concepts. In Reloaded, it takes things to a ridiculous extent with even more preachy philosophical stuff, and it comes across as rather forced. The dialogue driven elements of the film felt overly complex and bloated, and it really bogged down the movie when it got to these moments. The heavy handed dialogue does mostly tone down in the second half of the movie, with the exception of the infamous ‘Architect scene’. Without getting into that too much, while I understand the context of the scene and why the dialogue is written like that, it just borders on self-parody. It’s really no surprise why this scene has been parodied so much. Reloaded also has a rather unsatisfying cliffhanger ending, and although it’s the second part of a trilogy, it really feels like part 1 of 2 of a Matrix sequel (with part 2 being Matrix Revolutions). Despite everything, there were some interesting aspects. Some story aspects and interactions were interesting and I liked some of the ideas presented. I wouldn’t even say that I disliked the story. However, even as someone who doesn’t exactly love the first Matrix, that movie handles things a lot better than Reloaded.

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The acting generally remains the same as in the previous movie, pretty generic and not all that great. Some actors are better than others, for example I enjoyed Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus (like in the first movie). However I still don’t think Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are that good in their roles of Neo and Trinity. Their performances are rather bland and stiff and while I feel like that was part of their given direction, it hinders the performance greatly. It only feels worse given that it’s the sequels and they are still acting the same. Something I didn’t buy in the first movie at all was the sudden mention of Neo and Trinity being in love with each other despite nothing prior in the movie indicating that at all. Well it’s certainly not sudden in Reloaded as the film constantly pushes this relationship and it feels really forced. There’s still no chemistry between the two leads and it’s not made any more believable here. Even the new additions to the cast don’t really bring much new to talk about. I will say that Hugo Weaving made such a big impression in the first movie as Agent Smith, that despite his fate at the end of the last movie, they found a way to bring him back and he’s entertaining whenever he’s on screen as always.

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Once again, the Wachowski Sisters direct this, and props to them for pushing the boundaries even though the technology wasn’t quite there yet. The first Matrix seemed to embrace looking cool over functionality, I kind of respect that and it adds something to their aesthetic. The second movie is no exception. This movie has so many goofy moments which somehow adds to the movie’s entertainment. Neo flying for Superman for example is silly but fun. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the action scenes are generally quite good. In fact, Reloaded has some of the most memorable action scenes of the whole trilogy. It goes for more over the top action, more so than the first movie, and that is actually quite welcome. The choreography ranges from ridiculous to kind of awesome. There is a fight scene between Neo and many Agent Smiths, it was absolutely insane and only gets sillier as it progresses along, but it’s quite entertaining. There’s also a long extensive action sequence taking place on a freeway, and it’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole film, being both thrilling and entertaining. One flaw in the action scenes of the Matrix sequels however is that now that Neo is basically a superhero, it removes any tension from any action scene he’s in. Not to say that his action scenes aren’t good though, they are still fun. The CGI is impressive at times but overall, it is a bit dated for today. The 3D models can be good in one moment, and then extremely fake in another (the Neo vs Smiths fight being a strong example of this). Finally, there’s the amazing score from Don Davis, and the score is even better than the score in the first movie.

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The Matrix Reloaded is a very frustrating movie. To a degree I respect the ambition and scope of it, as well as the refusal to just repeat the first movie again. This does also lead to some of its worse aspects though, with the overindulgence (especially with the writing), heavy exposition, an overly complicated plot and script and more. By the end I didn’t have a clear idea of what I watched, and not in a good way. With that said, I do enjoy the movie. Some moments and ideas were well done, and the movie is worth watching for the action alone, even if some of the effects haven’t held up well. I’ll need to rewatch The Matrix Revolutions to see if it’s that much better than Reloaded, but I’m not expecting much.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Gerard Butler as United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning
Morgan Freeman as President Allan Trumbull
Danny Huston as Wade Jennings
Michael Landes as Sam Wilcox
Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Martin Kirby
Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Piper Perabo as Leah Banning
Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Helen Thompson
Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry
Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.

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I really liked Olympus Has Fallen, it was a throwback to R rated action movies from the 80s like Die Hard and it was entertaining for what it was. I even thought London Has Fallen was okay enough, a noticeable step down from the first movie but I found some enjoyment in it. However I wasn’t exactly really excited for the follow up with Angel Has Fallen. Along with the second movie taking a noticeable drop in quality already, the new plot was quite different from the past two movies, and I was getting Taken 3 vibes from the third instalment, and that’s never a good sign. Having watched it, I can say that it was some dumb fun for 2 hours, probably a little better than I expected it to be.

Angel Has Fallen is another over the top action flick, with a plot that you’ve seen many times before and done better. It’s a different plot from what you’d expect from a movie in this series. This time its Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning being on the run after being falsely accused of trying to kill the president. The sudden change in the type of plot seems pointless but I guess it was a better decision then just doing the past two movies set in different cities. It’s rather predictable in plot and you can get a general idea of where it’s going pretty early on. For example there’s a shadowy secret villain presented during the movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who it is just through process of elimination. Still, it isn’t too much of a problem once you’re 30 minutes into it. Something that’s interesting is that they almost took like a Skyfall sort of approach with regards to how they treat the main character (if you know what I mean), I guess that’s at least something different that they’re doing with this movie in the series but it doesn’t add up to much really. Side note but for some reason it has a mid credits scene as a joke, and I don’t know why they included it.

Gerard Butler once again does pretty well as Mike Banning, he’s got a handle on this character as his go to action role. Seeing as how this is the third time he’s played him and he’s probably going to reprise his role multiple times, it’s working out for him. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman here, he doesn’t even get much to do, despite being the president this time, he’s out of commission for most of the runtime. Nick Nolte plays Butler’s father and he was a standout in the movie whenever he was on screen. Danny Huston makes for a decent villain, his character is pretty one note and nothing special at all, but Huston elevates the role just a bit with his performance. Side note, no, Aaron Eckhart’s character who was the president in the previous two movies doesn’t appear here or isn’t even acknowledged, not a big deal but it was a little weird not having even a mention of him.

The direction by Ric Roman Waugh was fine for a standard action movie. The action is pretty standard but still entertaining. It’s nothing special and the action scenarios aren’t as extravagant as the previous movies, but on the other hand it’s didn’t fall into feeling a little lazy like London Has Fallen did at some point. Some of the CGI was pretty bad at times and could be a little distracting (mainly an early scene involving drones), but I’ve seen much worse.

Angel Has Fallen was what I expected, familiar, generic and pretty silly, but still entertaining enough for what it is. If you liked the other movies in the series then check it out for sure, you’ll no doubt have some fun with it. Otherwise you’re probably not going to get anything out of the third movie. If you haven’t watched the other movies and you’re still interested in it, you can jump right into this with no problem. Recently it was announced that there would be more movies in the Mike Banning/Has Fallen series. While I’m not overly enthusiastic by that proposition, I don’t mind it, they provide some brief entertainment for what they are.

Collateral (2004) Review

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Collateral

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Vincent
Jamie Foxx as Max
Jada Pinkett Smith as Annie
Mark Ruffalo as Fanning
Director: Michael Mann

Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) is a night-shift cab driver in Los Angeles. One night, he picks up a passenger named Vincent (Tom Cruise) who seems like another ordinary passenger. But when he drops Vincent off at his location and waits for him as asked, a body falls on his cab, and it becomes clear that Vincent is actually a hitman, and he’s got four more stops to make. Max is forced to drive Vincent around the City of L.A., unsure if he’ll live to see sunrise.

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Collateral is one of those rare surprising movies that come around every so often: a movie that can balance character, action and dialogue at the same time. The concept of the movie seems pretty straight forward but it also has many complex ideas that are put into play. This movie isn’t quite an action movie, even though it has action in it, it’s more of a thriller. Whenever there aren’t any action scenes, the dialogue has to carry the movie. Fortunately, the dialogue between characters is well written. The two main characters are the most developed in the movie and are the most interesting. Like I said earlier on, this is not an action movie, so a lot of the time you will be hearing Max and Vincent talk but the action scenes are also placed in the right times. The story takes quite a few twists and turns. The film mostly follows Foxx’s character and occasionally follows Mark Ruffalo who plays a detective investigating the murders happening.

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Jamie Foxx is really good in this movie. This movie and Ray (2004) helped him get more noticed and his performance here rightfully earned him an Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor (The same year he won for Best Actor for Ray). The most surprising performance in this movie came from Tom Cruise. It’s rare to find Tom Cruise in the role of the antagonist of a movie, with the possible exception of Interview with the Vampire (1994). This truly is Cruise’s best performance and is quite possibly the most fascinating character he has played. In his conversations with Max, hints of some of his past are implied, instead of just telling us, which allows the audience to speculate who he really is. Even some of the supporting cast like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Mark Ruffalo are really good, for what little amounts of scenes they were in.

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If you watch this movie, you will notice that the look is quite different to most movies. One of the best things about Michael Mann as a director is that he can make a movie look incredible. The city of LA looks beautiful under his direction and gives it a presence, and almost makes it a third character to Foxx and Cruise’s. Arguably the best filmed sequence is the one taking place inside a night club. He gets to play with a lot of lighting effects and it seems to flow smoothly. It there’s one thing I can say about the cinematography in this film, it’s that it flows and it never seems abrupt. The sound effects are very realistic, Michael Mann is known for having gunshot sound effects louder than most action movies such as movies as Heat and Public Enemies. The soundtrack is picked out well and each song is perfect for the moment. It goes from Green Car Motel, to Audioslave, to music composed by James Newton Howard and so on. All of these things combine to make the film seem almost dreamlike and wondrous, as well as puncturing the moments with the realistic gunshots.

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Collateral works as both as a suspenseful thriller and a character study. From the unique style to the fantastic acting from everyone, this makes a movie that is worth watching. A truly underrated and overlooked film, it deserves more attention than it has received. It is more of a thriller than an action flick but still is very entertaining as either, along with being an investing watch.