Backseat Sociopath

Collateral’s greatest trick is to make a viewer question their morals, to see right as hypocritical. It’s not long after hitman Vincent (Tom Cruise) kills his first victim. The body lands on Max’s (Jamie Foxx) cab roof. Panicked in the driver’s seat, Vincent makes a logical point – no one cares about Rwandan genocide, yet suddenly, Max is worried about that one guy he never knew meeting an end. Is it really the death or the personal involvement? Maybe it’s just damage to the windshield.

The games keep coming, expertly played by Vincent who beyond his marksmanship, clearly knows how to work over others. He makes Max out to be the villain, a guy who lies to his mom about success. Vincent chastises Max’s masculinity; Max won’t make a phone call to a woman, but Vincent coldly kills without fear. An economic disparity furthers the issue, Max saving for 12 years to open a limo business, doing things right. Vincent could open one after a single night of hits. It’s a battle between a tempting Devil figure and an imperfect man, played under seedy city lights.

Collateral is a battle between a tempting Devil figure and an imperfect man, played under seedy city lights

It’s captivating to watch, two utterly divergent people, stuck in the same situation, both daring one another to do something. For a while, Vincent does exude that movie cool, more than being Tom Cruise, but sporting boldly gray hair and a suit to match. The guy Vincent tossed from a window meant nothing – to the audience, he never spoke a line.

Everything happening around this movie is utterly average. There’s nothing interesting about this particular night. A man and his cab don’t matter. Driving down the street, walking past people, even asking when for help, life goes on in a bubble, same as on any given day, another Rwandan genocide doesn’t even make headlines.

Max’s growth then is to fight against that feeling, to make things matter to people, even as others abandon him. When he finally breaks, Max does so with force. He risks being smashed in a roll over accident, challenges a cop who reasonably assumes the worst, and risks shooting his assailant instead of running. Pitiful as it is for Collateral to descend into “man saves woman” cliches, the intense, brooding, and seedy build-up offer some cover. Collateral’s ending notes heroes are imperfect people. They lie and cheat, sure. But when needed, they’ll make their stand. Sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to reach that point.


Collateral is an interesting case given its early digital origins and HD source. There’s not much to gain in the move to 4K, and unlike the Star Wars prequels (also HD), there’s a definite grit here. Noise is dominant, yet handled well by the encode. Certain oddities appear, like a horizontal line as Foxx and Smith carry on a conversation early. That’s an anomaly. Ghosting is common though, hefty enough to give Collateral a near soap opera effect in spots.

Detail increases over the Blu-ray a smidgen, mostly via better compression rather than resolution. There’s not much to gain. Fidelity does draw the eye though, and Collateral involves close-ups consistently. Those excel, always. Even city shots pull decent material. Palette shifts accentuate the jazz bar with warmth, if favoring a coolness for the majority.

Cinematography avoids any instance of true black, and when at their best, just off. That’s nothing new, and preserved here. That means the Dolby Vision pass appears to lack density. Shadows mostly hit deep gray (and not even that deep), and even then crush due to source limitations. Set at night, light sources bring a little glow, not a disc for high nit content however. For what Collateral is, how/when it was shot, this is excellent. Recommending this over the Blu-ray? Only during a sale. The difference just isn’t there.


Furthering that argument, the DTS_HD track slides over unchanged. A quiet movie, the soundstage deals in high ambiance around the city. Traffic pans and passes between speakers exquisitely. Helicopters fly above (an opportunity for unused height channels), traveling easily side to side.

A moody soundtrack throbs in the low-end. Range finds purpose in gunshots. Collateral enjoys shocking with its sound, using volume spikes to jar the mix into action. Intensity during those moments brings a reality to things, natural as sounds echo/reverb around the cityscapes.


Michael Mann delivers commentary, same as before; this the only feature on the UHD as well as the Blu-ray. The Blu offers the 40-minute making-of, a single minute look at Tom Cruise’s prep, a lone deleted scene w/ commentary, a brief clip about shooting in the office building, rehearsal footage, and visual effects reel.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Collateral intelligently makes an audience question their own morality, and follows two men looking for a way to prove they’re right.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 33 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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