Bad movies, of any language, have one thing in common; they all go on for interminably long periods of time. Blame it all on the theory of relativity, but at some point all stinking reels give you that same sense of an unfeeling eternity. You've long since stopped caring about any of the characters, the plot is busy chasing its own sorry tail, and even the actors look drowsy. Leave the popcorn and flee. It's each man to himself.
Collateral is a classic example of a movie that refuses to end. It starts off all right, and then it turns into the date from hell: at first there's promise, then some mandatory chit-chat, some groping about in the dark, till someone says something stupid, uncomfortable silence follows, frigid indifference close on its heels. There's definitely no happily ever after here.
Max (Jamie Foxx) is a cabbie in LA; a nice guy who camouflages his highly strung nature with an almost Zen-like air of capability. He knows his way around the city's streets and prefers to drive at nights. This is how he happens to meet the two people who would turn his whole world on its back.
The first, Annie Farrell (Jada Pinkett Smith), is an attorney gearing up for a big case. There's a connection of sorts between the two and by the time he drops her off, you know they're destined to meet again. Sooner than they think, actually.
Max's next customer is Vincent (Tom Cruise), a suspicious Richard Gere-look alike, who carries a bursting suitcase and has five stops to make. With some persuasion, he gets Max to drive him around town and back to the airport, a decision the cabbie spends the rest of the night regretting.
Vincent is a hired killer, with a list of names from his paymaster. By the time Max catches on, there's a body in the trunk of his car, blood on his windshield and a gun at his head. Driving from one spot to another, the bodies steadily piling up, the duo hold rushed, introspective dialogues that are neither original nor compelling.
The cops get on their trail, but don't interfere by helping in any way. Gunshots fly, pavements blur past, and a pointless, long-drawn encounter takes place, all during which the plot does not make any move that's remotely interesting. You've seen all this before, done much better and with less blah blah. You don't connect at all with any of the characters, except briefly with Max, who also gets buried under the avalanche of yawns towards the end.
Collateral could have been sharper, smarter, and, most importantly, shorter. Instead it takes the long route. With an empty tank and no one in the driver's seat.