Time: 120 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Foxx) and Best Film Editing.
SYNOPSIS: A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in LA. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.
BOTTOM LINE: Since I seem to be one of the few movie lovers out there not infatuated with Tom Cruise, watching him portray a cold-blooded killer wasn't at all disconcerting to me. In fact, I found his steely resolve quite believable and completely mesmerizing...much to my surprise. I just don't buy his public persona as "Mr. Nice Guy" and find it interesting that his best performances (to me) are those that tap into his darker side.
Jamie Foxx delivers an equally compelling performance as the cab driver forced into accompanying Vincent (Cruise) on his killing spree. Max may be a lonely man with nothing to lose, but he's not about to actively help commit murder either. His fear may keep him temporarily in check, however, he's no dummy. He knows his name has been added to the list and though he may not have much to live for, he's not about to go down without a fight.
The reason behind the killings is complex enough to give the film depth, but nothing overly special. Why is not really the point. The joy of this experience is the tightening of the noose that Mann strings around the two men. There's never really a doubt that Max will prevail, though it's hard, for much of the film, to figure out how. What makes everything even more compelling is that Vincent truly comes to like Max, which makes his subsequent actions much, much creepier.
The plot kind of falls apart at the very end I couldn't quite swallow Max's heroics but not enough to spoil the overall ride. No one captures the essence of Los Angeles better than Mann, who makes the city an important character in this tale. This is a first-rate thriller that captures the damaged hearts of its characters, as well as the pretentious soul of its' location.