Shock, horror! Tom Cruise can act - in this tale of a hitman and a taxi driver, Cruise makes amends for the rather-over-sentimentality-and-averageness of The Last Samurai. He plays a hitman, Vincent, just arrived in LA for another job. The job actually involves five targets, and pretty soon alot more work than he figured it would...
More or less the first thing he does when he arrives in LA is catch a cab to the first target. His cabbie, Max (played by Jamie Foxx) is good at what he does - much like Vincent - having been a cabbie for awhile now, even though (he says) "it's just temporary". When Vincent realises how good a cabbie Max is, he offers him a big job - ferrying him around to all his targets - although Max doesn't know just yet exactly what Vincent does. It isn't long before the stakes are raised, as the first target flies out of his 1st floor apartment window and straight onto the roof of Max's cab, parked round the back on Vincent's instructions. Cue a panicked Max beginning to realise just how dodgy Vincent is, and getting ready to run - but Vincent can't allow that, and so he forces Max at gunpoint to carry on with the job. Max is pretty determined not to stay in the company of the cold-blooded killer, and on several occasions does come close to escaping. He doesn't manage it until he pulls the particularly brave (if stupid) move of crashing the cab. Vincent is the first to emerge, and after a minute to get his bearings, quickly trots off into the darkness. When Max emerges, he discovers who Vincent's next target is and decides to go and stop him. Why? it's that good-looking, friendly woman he had as a fare just that morning, who (as chance would have it) gave him her work number. The chase ends with a rapid shootout between Max and Vincent on a moving MTA train.
The film likes to show how two people can be so different and yet so similar, and also treats us to the views Max and Vincent hold on life (particularly a five or ten minute long stretch where Max is arguing with Vincent over his shooting of a cop who was trying to help Max) and are shown that Vincent is as disconnected as the city-dwellers he speaks of with so much disdain, and some of Max's illusions are as flimsy as he doesn't like to admit he realises.
Although there's plenty of action in this, it's definitely more of a character film, albeit still with one or two cliches of the kind that wouldn't feel out of place in a standard '80s actioner.
Overall, well worth a watch. 4/5
Collateral on DVD at Amazon