LA cabbie Max Durocher is the type of person who can wax poetic about other people's lives, which impresses U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell, one of his fares, so much that she gives him her telephone number at the end of her ride. Although a dedicated man as seen through the efficiency in which he does his work, he can't or won't translate that eloquence into a better life for himself. He deludes himself into believing that his now twelve year cabbie job is temporary and that someday he will own his own limousine service. He even lies to his hospitalized mother that he already owns one, with a further lie that he tells her as such primarily to make her happy, rather than the truth which is that he won't do anything to achieve that dream. One night, Max picks up a well dressed man named Vincent, who asks Max to be his only fare for the evening. For a flat fee of $600, plus an extra $100 if he gets to the airport on time - Vincent wants Max to drive him to five stops ... Written by
It is hard to lavish enough praise on the acting on display here from the two main protagonists. Jamie Foxx shows signs of the charisma and ability that made him a cert for the best actor Oscar for Ray. Meanwhile Tom Cruise is a sheer revelation as the psychotic but professional hit-man Vincent.
Cabbie Max (Foxx) picks up Vincent (Cruise) expecting just another job. When Vincent offers to double his nightly earnings if he drives him all night he accepts, until Vincent's mission is revealed. What follows is a night of hell for Max, reluctantly driving Vincent from hit to hit, all the while trying to stay alive and do the right thing, two goals which may ultimately be unachievable together. What is most fascinating about Cruise's character though is the sheer indifference he shows towards his victims. He does not hate them, he doesn't even know them, he has just been assigned to kill them and does so with absolutely no remorse. When a body crashes on to his cab, followed by Vincent's re-appearance, Max is shocked by the answer to his accusatory 'you killed him!" - No, I shot him, the bullets and the fall killed him." This matter-of-fact approach is indicative of Vincent's professionalism, and adds a really chilling level of apathy to the character.
It is certainly refreshing to see Cruise in such a different role, and it is one which he really gets his teeth into, producing a sociopath contract killer, seemingly with no remorse and no redeeming qualities. He pulls it off with a genuinely sinister edge on the character, and the final half hour is particularly impressive from an acting point of view.
Jamie Foxx however is certainly by no means acted off the screen. His likable cabbie with relaxed attitude to life (well, until he meets Cruise) shows many of the qualities he used to really bring Ray Charles to life later.
The action too is well staged by Michael Mann, in probably his best work since Heat. It is easy to track the action through the relatively simple plot, and the set piece scenes are competently done without being spectacular. A very good above average thriller, but most notable for Cruise's revelation of another string to his acting bow. A superbly acted film.
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