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Tom Cruise’s Collateral Is the Actor’s Best and Only Horror Movie

A well-dressed man glides through a crowd of dancers at a packed nightclub while the rhythmic electronic drone of Paul Oakenfold’s “Ready Set Go” bounces off every surface in the air time. The crowd was absorbed in the music, oblivious to the dark presence that moved between them like a shadow. The figure walking towards the back of the room wasn’t there to dance or mingle. He’s there with a single terrible purpose, stalking and killing another victim, and nothing can stop him. A few guards lay waiting, hidden among the crowd, to protect their intended target, but they were quickly dispatched in a flurry of snaps and barrages of attacks. Loud music and boisterous crowds obscured the scene of violence from detection. The brutal killer hasn’t flinched from the physical change and is now one step closer to completing his macabre quest.

This foreshadowing sequence sounds like a horror movie, but it’s actually Michael Mann’s 2004 horror film. Collateral. Lived by Tom Cruise, Vincent’s character is a rare among the past performances of the image-conscious superstar, allowing him to play a brutal and devastating force of destruction. emotional ring. While this isn’t his only villain role, it’s definitely the one that gives him the most chills. Along with Mann’s sudden use of violence, Collateral standing out is the closest thing to a killer movie Tom Cruise has ever made.

The word “murderer” can conjure images of unstoppable knife-wielding lunatics killing teammates at a summer camp or college. But the killer horror genre is broad and includes only a few essentials: an unstoppable killer, unintentional victims (those who try but fail to escape their wrath) killer) and a leaf to fend off the madman’s wrath. Collateral It may not have Cruise wearing a mask and brandishing a chainsaw, but it certainly has all the other essentials front and center – they’re just covered up in the window mantle of a horror movie. criminal.

The plot of Collateral saw Vincent arrive in Los Angeles one night of an assassination attempt, in order to prevent a federal indictment before it continued. To aid him in his quest to navigate the city, he tricks a taxi driver, Max (Jamie Foxx), into driving him, with the promise of cash for an easy night’s work. In the first moments of the film, Vincent doesn’t seem to stand out compared to Cruise’s other performances. He’s charming yet focused, and on the athletic side with his striking gray hairdo that matches his well-dressed suit, Vincent feels like the actor relies on the qualities that have made him a celebrity. star. That all changes quickly when Vincent’s first blow is a bit bad and his victim’s body does a double belly roll on top of Max’s cab. The body hitting the roof of the car broke not only part of the taxi sign lying there, but also the lies Vincent had told Max about his one-night show.

Tom Cruise, after several murders, in Collateral.

Image: Paramount Pictures / DreamWork Pictures

Before Max can fully process what happened, Vincent makes it clear that nothing has changed for Max’s situation: Vincent still needs to take the ferry to his destinations, and Max is responsible for the damage. that. An agreement is an agreement. This is the first time that the audience, and Max, see the seductive mask Vincent hides behind fall off to reveal a calculated killer underneath. It’s clear that Vincent is the ultimate predator in this concrete and glass jungle – a defiant force ready to shoot down anything that stands in his way and what he’s after.

As the pair walk through the sprawling and disconnected landscape of LA after work, Max tries to understand the situation he’s in. He tries this the way many of Michael Mann’s notable protagonists do, through conversation. Trapped in a taxi and isolated in an empty urban area, he confronts his passenger’s captor but Vincent offers no answer that offers clarity or comfort. In his own words, he is simply “indifferent” to the death he leaves behind after he wakes up – keeping him from being too far removed from the other truly monstrous characters of horror fiction, as another well-dressed, charismatic killer: American mentalityPatrick Bateman’s. The biggest difference between the two is training and purpose, but murder is still murder, even when it’s done with tactical efficiency.

Tom Cruise is in the back of a cab in Collateral.

Image: DreamWorks Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Mann grasped horror tropes for alternative use in Collateral to strengthen Vincent as an evil force. In a striking scene that takes place in the middle of the night, Vincent’s demeanor changes back to almost normal as he tells Max they’re ahead of schedule and he’s going to buy him a drink at a club. nearby jazz set. The movie then cuts in half with their drinks, watching the club’s owner, Daniel (Barry Shabaka Henley), expertly play the trumpet to that night’s patrons. Vincent explains his appreciation for the impromptu nature of music to Max and even invites Daniel to sit with them for a drink.

Daniel recounts them with stories about legendary jazz musician Miles Davis, and in these fleeting moments. Cruise’s natural charisma shines through and Vincent seems like any other fan, enamored of what he loves. Immediately, his demeanor reverted to a cold one when it became clear that Daniel was indeed another target on his celebrity list. Max and Daniel both beg Vincent for an exception and let Daniel go. Vincent offers an obvious compromise, if Daniel can correctly answer a question about Miles Davis, he is free to go. Of course, this is never really a possibility. Daniel answered the question and Vincent still coldly shot him into the air with a silenced pistol. Vincent rationalizes it with a technique, but it’s clear that Daniel has no hope of survival. The whole situation was simply to show the audience and Max they were at the mercy of someone who simply had no concept.

Another moment heavily informed by the horror genre comes when a narrative sequence from earlier in the film is forced together in a shocking fashion. After the first negligently solved assassination, we learn a detective (Mark Ruffalo) is searching for Vincent, and understand that Max is capable of nothing more than a captive living off borrowed time. borrow. The story builds in a way that makes the audience think that this lone cop will help Max and become a capable shield for Cruise’s killer assassin., played the role of Dr. Loomis for Vincent’s well-dressed Michael Myers.

Tom Cruise holds a gun in Collateral.

Image: DreamWorks Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Immediately after a gunfight signed by Michael Mann inside a crowded nightclub that saw Vincent brutally take down multiple cops on his way to killing his penultimate target, Max was singled out by the police. Ruffalo’s poison grabbed him and dashed away from the scene. Going through the chaos, Max is reassured that this is the help he has been longing for throughout the story. However, as they exit the building, Ruffalo’s character is shot to death midway by Vincent waiting. This whole sequence from the moment they enter the club to the hero detective’s shocking murder feels like the subversion of a similar scene from a classic 1984 sci-fi movie. destroyer (“Come to me if you want to live.”). Instead of a hero who stood up to the emotionless killing machine that ultimately led to its defeat, Ruffalo’s Kyle Reese was wiped out without making any real difference in the story. This diminishing audience expectations is the reinforcement of a common horror in horror—you may think you’re on the run, but the killer is always one step ahead and waiting to strike. when it matters. There is no safety.

Equal Collateral Entering its final act, the film fully embraces the horror aesthetic it has toyed with throughout its run. After he ends up rebelling and crashing the car carrying them both, Max learns that the last name on Vincent’s list is (kind of a movie-only coincidence), Annie (Jada Pinkett-Smith), a lawyer. excuses that Max shared. a romantic moment at the beginning of the movie. Chasing Vincent as he walks, he attempts to call and warn Annie with a stolen phone that unfortunately runs out of battery, creating a moment all too familiar for horror fans. Annie is working late, alone in the multi-storey building of her law office, and unaware that a killer is lurking and will soon be unable to find her. Max tries to warn her while forced to watch helplessly from the street below as Vincent closes the door.

Tom Cruise looks glamorous on the LA skyline in Collateral.

Image: DreamWorks Pictures / Paramount Pictures

At this point, Cruise incarnates Vincent as a new killer character. Bloody and bruised from a car crash, he can no longer hide the darkness behind his clean exterior, and Cruise seems to relish the chance to be emaciated and desperate on screen. There was even a moment when he held a fire ax to cut off the electricity in the building. In this moment, all of the serial killer’s undertones about his character come to the surface and he completely becomes what audiences think of as a horror movie villain.

In a scene that uses Mann’s lifeless eyes to stage physical actions to create a strong sense of fear, Vincent slowly watches Annie crouch through a dark tall building – with only light The distant glow of the surrounding buildings sheds light on their squeaky cats. and mouse game. Looks like Vincent was about to succeed in killing Annie, he was thwarted at the last possible moment by an intervening Max. Cruise’s unyielding physicality is used to exude pure menace in these tense times, and it’s one of the best physical performances of his career. Vincent goes from measured and ready to attack to completely frenzied as he smashes the glass to chase after the couple on the run.

Eventually, Annie and Max set off on a public transit train and what they thought was safe, but with a bit of stubborn determination that could make Jason Voorhees or Leatherface proud, Vincent followed them into the confrontation. finally (remember there is no such thing as a safety).

Naturally, it ended with Max finally stopping Vincent and completely saving himself and Annie. At that point, the story ends with the two entering the dawn of a new day, forever altered by the darkness they face, like any notable survivor in a series. horror film.

Tom Cruise hasn’t done anything as dark as his role since Collateralreleased nearly 18 years ago, although he received strong reviews and the film itself was a huge box office success. Maybe as he enters his later years and his time as an action star begins to shorten, he will once again take on a role that is the complete opposite of his typical on-screen persona. If he doesn’t, at least there’s this all-time villainous performance for audiences to enjoy.

Collateral available for viewing on HBO Max.

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