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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Collateral [Blu-ray] vs. DVD


(Michael Mann, 2004)



Review by Gary Tooze and Joseph Schmickrath



Theatrical: Paramount / Dreamworks

Video: Dreamworks Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:56.189 

Disc Size: 42,839,304,136 bytes

Feature Size: 36,434,202,624 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.79 Mbps - DVD Average Bitrate: 8.16 mb/s

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 30th, 2010

DVD Release Date: December 14th, 2004



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4263 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4263 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

DVD has 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1



English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

DVD has English, French, Spanish, none


Extras (duplicated on both):

Director Michael Mann Commentary
City of Night: The Making of Collateral
Special Delivery
Shooting on Location: Annie’s Office
Cruise & Foxx split screen rehearsals





Description: Tom Cruise as an assassin in a silver-gray suit shows up in Los Angeles at dusk and expects to leave at dawn. His job: to eliminate five witnesses in an impending federal prosecution of a drug cartel. He bullies a sweet-tempered taxi-driver, one Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx), into providing transportation all through the night, and "Collateral" turns into a kind of convoluted buddy movie, in which the two men engage in a weird, terse dialogue about murder. The plot of "Collateral," which was directed by Michael Mann, is just a movie-ish contrivance, and the violence is no more than thuggishly casual and chic-that is, very enjoyable. But shot by shot, scene by scene, Mann may be the best director in Hollywood. Methodical and precise, he analyzes a scene into minute components-a door closing, an arm thrust out-and gathers the fragments into seamless units; he wants you to live inside the physical event, not just experience the sensation of it. "Collateral" comes off like clockwork, but it's a clock that breathes-great actors like Mark Ruffalo, Javier Bardem, and Barry Shabaka Henley have sustained, intricate moments in the pauses between the violent acts. With Jada Pinkett Smith. Written by Stuart Beattie. Shot largely with digital cameras by Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron.

-David Denby at The New Yorker



The Film:

Director Michael Mann’s “Collateral” has an intoxicating vibe, which is reinforced by ambiance, a somber score by James Newton Howard and the use of high definition cameras by Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron. And not unlike “Lost in Translation,” “Collateral” succeeds because of its keen attention to the intricate nuances of its characters and the incoherent world they inhabit.

Jamie Foxx, in his best acting role to date, plays Max, a quite cab driver who prefers the night shift to the day shift because it’s less stressful and the tips are better. He’s meticulous in his attention to detail, making sure his cab is extremely clean and functionality is in perfect working order before starting the night.

Max’s first fare is Annie, played perfectly by Jada Pinkett Smith. She’s a prosecutor who’s got a big case the next day and is going to have to pull an all-nighter to make sure her exhibits are in order. Smith’s screen time is relatively short compared to the films leads—Foxx and Tom Cruise—but she’s not wasted at all. As her character Annie and Max travel across the freeway toward her destination, there’s an immediate chemistry conveyed by both the characters and the actors playing them. It’s not only gripping but one of the best acted scenes I’ve ever witnessed. It’s so grounded in reality and played so realistically that it’s very believable and intensely personal. This scene and the films effectiveness in grounding itself in reality also comes from the solid script by Stuart Beattie.

Once Max drops off Annie he picks up his second, and unknowingly his last, fare of the night—Vincent (Cruise). He’s a gray haired man, not in the old sense but in the assassin sense, who ends up bribing Max with more money than his shift pays. The contract is for Max to take Vincent to multiple stops throughout the night to see friends and close a big deal. But when Vincent’s first stop lands a fat Angelino on Max’s cab, Max soon realizes the man he made a deal with is not as clear cut as he thought, and he made a big mistake in accepting Vincent’s money. “You killed him? asks Max. “No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.”

It turns out that the fat Angelino was being worked on by an undercover Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo). When Fanning goes to visit the guy he finds a window shattered and blood on the pavement below. However, there remains no body.

Throughout the night Vincent racks up more and more kills, while Max finds out what he’s really made of and Detective Fanning gets closer and closer to putting all the pieces together. While on the surface the plot of “Collateral” may seem like just a run-of-the-mill thriller, it’s not. The power of Mann’s cinematic vision and his care for the depth and breadth of quite dialogue driven scenes really elevates the film beyond its genre norms.

Cruise gives a ferociously intense performance that stands out but is equally supported. His take on a charismatic contract killer shows that his first turn as a villain was well worth the wait. The dualities of Vincent’s charismatic and psychotic qualities shine through in Cruise’s chameleon like acting. And Vincent is more than your stereo typical bad guy. Actually, there is enough sympathy and rationalization thrown Vincent’s way that it’s hard not to root for him on some level. The conversations Max and Vincent have, in between stops and at them, only add more interest towards Vincent’s disturbed psyche.


Part of the ambiance that Mann conveys in “Collateral” comes from the locations, as well as the way certain scenes are shot and either accompanied with score or a song. One shot in particular occurs when the taxi pulls up to a red light in the latter half of the film. Both Vincent and Max feel lost at this point, having been through so much throughout the long and grueling night. As Vincent looks out his right window into the distant night, we can see a long street of palm trees going down the road out the window to his left. This long and desolate road amps up our emotional connection to Vincent’s ambiguous place in the world. Right after that shot there’s a cut to a shot of a wild coyote crossing in front of the cab before the light turns green. There’s amazing beauty and symbolism to its presence.

Another significant scene and vibe comes when Max has had enough of not only Vincent but himself. He realizes ending Vincent’s tirade is in his own hands, so he disregards Vincent’s gun totting order to slow down and speeds up the taxi. The song "Shadow on the Sun" by Audioslave is played over this scene, really putting us inside this intense culmination scene of all of the night’s transgressions.

The high definition cameras also add to a surrealistic and heightened sense of reality that only a cinematic film could convey. The use of high definition in particular is pertinent to some helicopter camera shots of the streets below. We can make out the distance and scope of the streets of L.A. but also at times the taxi we’re following below.

Collateral” is every bit as good as Mann’s 1995 magnum opus “Heat,” in fact, in this reviewers humble opinion, it’s better. To those who enjoy either Cruise’s acting or Mann’s direction, it’s a safe bet the film won’t disappoint. And to every one else, don’t miss one of the most gripping, well made films of the year.

Joseph Schmickrath


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Collateral appears to have benefited in the move to Blu-ray although the transfer still identifies some of the limitations of the HD camera usage.  The noise is most prevalent in the darker scenes that tend to dominate Collateral.  When there is some better lit close-ups they accentuate the differences. Colors tighten up marginally but detail advances significantly at times over the SD-DVD. There is no video-haze that we sometimes wee with this manner of production but glare exists when direct fluorescent light appears in the frame.  Overall this Blu-ray more accurately reports the visuals but fans expecting crystal clear clarity will be left wanting. It wasn't shot with that intention. The dual-layered rendering has a high bitrate and, in my opinion, is a vastly stronger presentation depending on the equipment you are using.





DreamWorks - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. DreamWorks (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM



DreamWorks - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP vs. DreamWorks (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM



More Blu-ray captures












Audio :

Audio is a powerhouse 5.1 DTS-HD Master at a pulsing 4263 kbps. While handling the guns and car crashes with alacrity - it's the night pauses with their subtleties, that tend to draw the most praise from this reviewer. Comparatively to the DVD there is abundant depth. The Blu-rays offers DUBS and subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate the 2-disc SE DVD which Joseph Schmickrath commented on below:

"Perusing through the extras, the most interesting and important feature of this two disc set is Mann’s audio commentary on disc one. He’s very articulate and easy to listen to. He delves into not only the technical aspect of the shoot but also the flow of the narrative and the main characters biographical information not told in the film. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Moving on to disc two, there’s a very nice making of feature entitled “City of Night: The Making of Collateral.” With a running time of approximately 41 minutes, it’s not your typical EPK fluff. It’s actually a wonderful companion piece to the commentary, really delving further into what is covered by it. It’s anamorphic and framed at 1.78:1. The feature also does a wonderful job of covering the various departments that worked on the film. One really interesting thing that isn’t listed on IMDB is that there’s additional score by Antonio Pinto, as opposed to just James Newton Howard.

The rest of the features are interesting but relatively short. First up is a feature, which clocks in at 1 minute and 8 seconds called “Special Delivery.” Basically director Michael Mann wanted Tom Cruise to try to deliver a package as a Fed-Ex delivery man without being recognized. Mann felt that if Cruise could pull this off it would add to his character of Vincent who would be completely unrecognizable. The problem with this feature is we’re told about all the details and only shown a glimpse of what would otherwise be a very cool feature.

Next there’s one deleted scene with Mann commentary that shows Vincent having Max go through LAX airport arrivals in order to blend in with other taxies, so that when he comes out the other side he’ll have lost any tails following him. It’s a good scene but I agree with Mann’s reason for deletion, which is that it would take the audience out of the vibe and momentum that the picture has up to that point.

“Shooting on Location: Annie’s Office” gives us a quick look at one of the films final climatic scenes. There’s also a cool little feature showing Jaime Foxx and Tom Cruise rehearsing. Finally, there’s “Visual FX: MTA Train showing how Mann used green screen for the final sequence of the movie. The only other additional extras are trailers, cast and filmmaker bios, and production notes.".



I don't share the enthusiasm that Joseph does for the film, but admit to it's entertainment value. Cruise and Foxx work well together and the support is awesome from the likes of a perfect, edgy but committed, L.A. detective in Ruffalo, a dash of lawyerly babe with Jada Pinkett Smith and pinch of seething Latin Javier Bardem. As an action/thriller this holds up just as well today even though I don't see the subtext beyond the violence. I certainly can't deny the Blu-ray gave me a better viewing than the older DVD - in both audio and video. This film has a certain style and aura that is really helped by the 1080P. The grittiness comes through as more 'naturalistic'. Yes, we recommend. 

Gary Tooze

March 27th, 2010



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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