Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"Get with it. Millions of galaxies of hundreds of millions of stars, in a speck on one in a blink. That's us, lost in space. The cop, you, me... Who notices?"

Two reviews in one day? How is this possible? Well, I got a rare surge of creative inspiration at the same time as my co-writer, and decided to review one of my favorite movies of the decade. As you may or may not know, I am a complete mark for anything Michael Mann makes. His characters are always thoroughly sketched, the cinematography is always mind blowing, the action scenes are revolutionary, and the music is always first rate.

This was the movie that introduced me to the brilliance of Michael Mann. A director shooting a movie almost entirely at night, and with the help of HD, the city of LA is added as a character as we follow a hitman and a cab driver through the barren streets of LA.

The premise, is relatively simple, a hitman forces a cab driver to drive him to all of his kills. What makes this movie great is the characters and the interactions between them. Cruise brings a detached, philosophical edge to his character. Every movement is calculated and precise and constantly aware. This is a character you don't often see Tom Cruise play, usually he's charming, emotional and flamboyant, as Vincent, he is cold and calculating, always in control.

The film start unusually, with Jamie Foxx giving Jada Pinkett Smith a ride in her cab. The acting in this scene is tremendous, as Foxx and Smith start with a casual conversation about cab routes and delve into a deeper conversation where Smith shows her characters oft hidden vulnerability and Foxx's character enjoys his momentary role as a man who has things figured out.

The kills aren't actually the centerpiece of the movie. In fact, two of them do not even appear on screen. Instead the conversations between Vincent and Max take the lead. A lesser filmmaker would make this film a two and a half hour breathless chase scene, but Mann realizes where the story is in the script, and it doesn't lie in the exploits of Vincent, but in the relationship between the two man, and the growth of Max.

As informants go missing, and bodies turn up, a night detective, played by Mark Ruffalo(in a role contrary to everything he's ever done) begins to unravel the mystery. Ruffalo's detective and Federal agents get on Vincent's trail leading to the spectacular scene at the night club.

Throughout the movie, Vincent and Max run into a multitude of different characters, all who are solidly acted and have a story to tell. The scene in the jazz club is acted perfectly by all parties involved.

The ending wasn't spectacular, and the subway chase was a little far fetched. But words really don't do this movie justice. It is a great film from every possible angle, the acting, writing, editing, cinematography, was all top notch. I loved it.