Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Rocket League

Director Michael Mann discusses ''Collateral''

Posted on

Director Michael Mann’s crackling new thriller, ”Collateral,” stars Tom Cruise as a hitman with a contract to kill five people and Jamie Foxx as the cab driver who unwillingly transports him on his rounds. After tackling real-life subjects in ”Ali” and ”The Insider,” the director spoke to EW about his return to action flicks. — Ken Tucker

”Collateral” takes place over 10 hours, late one night, with just a few key locations. That creates a very precise, formal challenge.

I wanted to compress time, to imagine the psychological extremes when two lives collide unexpectedly. Small [details] become very important when, for example, you don’t change wardrobe, when the time of day doesn’t change, when the color of night or the cut of a suit becomes crucial.

Yeah, what’s the deal with Cruise’s all-gray look?

That was an intuitive thing — I saw Tom as all steely, and the visual for that was silver hair and a tight gray suit. The man he’s playing is erudite, well read, and [his] sociopathy is total. With Tom, you don’t get what you hear from a lot of movie stars, which is ”Don’t move me out of my range, what I bring to every movie I do.”

Why Foxx?

I saw that [quality of Tom’s] in Jamie on ”In Living Color” — his characters were so vivid. That’s why I went after him for [cornerman] Bundini Brown in ”Ali.” Jamie starts with mimicry, but then he talks about ”putting it into the database,” so he can access a character once he’s got it down.

One of the climactic scenes is in a crowded Korean nightclub, the other in a high-windowed, unlit office. The latter features distinctive-looking, shimmery nighttime visuals. You shot a lot of your 2002 TV series Robbery Homicide Division on high-definition video — did you use that here?

Yeah. One of the first images I had in my head was guys stalking each other as near-silhouettes against the city at night. That could not have been shot on film; the aesthetic does not exist in the photochemical realm — it only exists in high-def video. As for the [filmed] scenes in the club, I had a floor plan the size of a large dining room table and plotted out every single actor’s move and camera position. The choreography of that action, with customers freaking out as Tom shoots the guys after him — there were 600 Korean extras kept in a state of hysteria 12 hours a day. We were all wiped [laughs], but they were terrific.