collateral (+++1/2). the sort of two-lead tension (jamie foxx and tom cruise) that denzel washington and ethan hawke would have given their left eyes to pull together in training day. tom cruise is a bitterly funny sociopath, but foxx clearly gets under his skin; foxx is initially familiar to anyone who's had a few late-night conversations with friendly cab drivers, but his everyman heroics are ultimately, pleasantly, surprising. michael mann gives los angeles a look that's resonant for locals yet eerily his own (heavy use of light-hungry digital video was an excellent choice - tight shots seemed as distant as long-range scans of the freeway, and tom cruise slipping in and out of focus at the climax was brilliant). my only complaints are nitpicky: so cal coyotes are normally knife-thin rather than wolfish, and i have yet to meet someone who's actually used the l.a. subway. all in all, masterful direction, well-managed suspense, and tom cruise's best performance to date.

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