movies are most often a short segment of a life. sometimes they happen over some days, sometimes over a lifetime. look at it from this point of view : when a story takes place over a few days, there is a obvious need to skip over the redundant details. conversations are no longer continuous. rather the characters have a transient memory remembering only the intent of a conversation than the actual words spoken. we fill in the remaining details ourselves with our imagination. collateral lasts over one night in LA. this reduces our background thought process allowing us instead to concentrate on some interesting details.
first the characters . the movie starts with a cab driver. the way he cleans his cab reveals he is a neat freak. then there is this woman he picks up and through his penchant for detail figures out is a lawyer a la sherlock holmes. they have a conversation where everything clicks between him and her to the point where she leaves her card with him.then there is the assassin who spouts philosophy and demographics like captain without the trench coat or the excess flab. "no one cares if someone unknown dies" he says.
he gets the cab driver to drive him first to one kill ,then another and one more, while at the same time he reveals a strange character who kills without remorse but cares enough about the cab driver to stop him from getting harrassed by his dispatcher and also buys flowers for the cabbie's mom when he takes him to visit her in the hospital. a stockholm syndrome like bond develops between the cabbie and the assassin and some more philosophical talk happens. too much of anything is bad and this time all the extra wisdom from the assassin ticks the cabbie off into taking some proactive steps about his situation leading to a cab crash. he finds out the next victim is the lawyer woman and being the good man that he is he rescues her and kills the assassin, with a little remorse.
tom cruise comes off being a little pedantic instead of the uber-cool assassin he is supposed to be. but jamie foxx is superb as the cab driver. coming back to the advantages of reducing a smaller interval of time into a movie - the cabbie repeats some of his lines, at one point even a joke. thats a ploy i've used several times when i find a certain line or phrase works in eliciting a laugh. the conversations though longer are continuous and more like a real life conversation. all of this has helped jamie foxx earn an oscar nomination for a supporting role in this . if you were looking for a reason to see the movie, you have one right there.