A fresh story-line and exceptional use of film techniques lead the way for an enthralling crime-drama that keeps you hanging until the end.
Veteran taxi driver Max (Foxx) has dreams of owning his own town-car service puts and he puts in long hours to try and make it a reality. His mundane routine of working the night-shift will never be the same after one seemingly ordinary evening.
After meeting a strong willed and captivating attorney named Annie (Pinkett Smith) he inadvertently picks up a talkative and mysterious man named Vincent (Cruise). The common ride turns to anything but when Max learns Vincent is a contract killer and that throughout the night they will be making five stops so Vincent can take out the targets on his hit-list. Max will have to follow what Vincent wants or else his life will be taken as well and he may never see the sunrise again.
This film had a lot going for it, a unique script, talented director Michael Mann and always a box office draw, Tom Cruise. Add to it a surprise performance from Jamie Foxx who effortlessly makes himself a true co-star to Cruise. Not to forget strong performances from from Mark Ruffalo and Javier Bardem in smaller roles making for a well rounded cast. The result is a highly captivating crime-drama with large doses of suspense and many tense moments that keep you on edge.
For me the most enjoyable aspects of this film is easily the creative uniqueness it delivers on many levels. First the script, it was a fresh idea in concept and with the plot revolving virtually between two characters for the most part, there is not many better selections then Foxx and Cruise to carry the run-time. The locations for this film were also excellent. The city of Los Angeles, the sprawling metropolis we have been seeing in films for decades has never looked like is has in this film.
Using just the right times of day, lighting effects and angles the city that sets the scene for the story-lines backdrop seems more alive then ever. There will be more than a handful of moments when you will find your eye caught by the tone the backdrops deliver. Using wide sweeping angles and cool cold color tones the city if given an ominous feel and what you get is a familiar city that suddenly feels unfamiliar.
The events of the story take place over one night and with little time the dialogue in this script is easily able to enthrall your attention. Meaningless conversations are swept to the side in this script, the clever back-and-forth’s between Cruise and Foxx in the cab is an example of how words can leave profound meaning in the most subtle of deliveries. Cruise perfectly captures an intelligently eerie persona and the controlled fear from Foxx serves as a great compliment to many scenarios.
Tom Cruise has had an illustrious career but (in my opinion) he was at his best in this one. From the creative look of his character to the stiff but flowing movement in his actions, to the cunning way he interacts with Foxx’s character – he was excellent. He added a mystique to his role and effortlessly pulled off the part of a contract killer and with Cruise clearly embracing the role and appearing to have fun with it, the positive results show onscreen.
This film, with its script and Cruise leading the way would have been a solid thriller regardless but the aspect that brings this film up even higher was the surprise performance of Jamie Foxx. While he had been on TV and film before, even starring in a few projects this was his first mainstream leading role and Foxx turned it into his coming out party. After his performance in this film he was considered a leading man and his career would quickly take off with another astonishing performance in “Ray” later that year that would garner him the coveted Best Actor Academy Award.
The chemistry between the two in this film is excellent and it builds the moments of tension perfectly. The rest of the cast was excellent as well, Mark Ruffalo, Javier Bardem and Jada Pinkett-Smith all make the most of their roles with compelling performances. The pace of this story-line was also very good, once it gets going you can feel a nice flow as the dynamic between Foxx and Cruise’s characters evolves while the latter stops at nothing to complete his nights tasks. With intelligently crisp writing you are given concise doses of information that build who these men are as the story follows them through the night.
Like any great film it usually always comes down to the third-act and this one clearly does not disappoint. There is a solid twist in the closing act that only enhances the rest of the film. Despite having many tense moments throughout, the true suspense is saved for the end for a perfectly structured build-up. If anyone hasn’t seen this one do yourself a favor and put it on the top of your list.