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Of the many depressing and dehumanizing aspects of contemporary life, going to the corporate megaplex to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster ranks right up there.   However, I decided to endure it because I’d heard such good things about this movie.   I’m not all that familiar with Michael Mann’s work, with the exception of ‘Heat’, which I liked, and ‘Ali’, which had some problems, but it turns out that seeing this one makes me want to catch up with the rest of his oeuvre.  

Tom Cruise stars as a hit man who’s in L.A. for one night to “whack” five prosecution witnesses set to testify against a drug kingpin.   Jamie Foxx plays a cabdriver forcibly enlisted by Cruise to drive him on his appointed rounds.   I completely believed Foxx as the cab driver and Cruise’s work is also strong, down to his authoritatively lethal body movements when he goes to work.   All the characters, even the minor ones, are well-written and acted and invested with a depth unusual for a mainstream thriller, particularly Jada Pinkett Smith in an early scene.   The big city at night is wonderfully evoked, and there’s even an unexpected death, which again is rare in this type of genre piece.    

In fact, this movie is so good that if it didn’t veer into such dire cliché at the end (another subway chase? Oh, man), I’d recommend it not only to thriller fans but to anyone interested in excellent filmmaking.   As it is, I would recommend it to fans of the genre who are looking for something above average.

- Aug 12, 2004

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