PRETTY SURE THIS WILL BEAT "TAXI" IN THE "BEST TAXICAB MOVIE" AWARDS: I wind up with a split decision on "Collateral." Yes, the direction is as stylish as one might expect from Mann, who masterfully uses light and darkness throughout the film, and brings an intensity and immediacy to a film that unfolds largely in real time. You can't fault the performances, either. Be it from Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, or a supporting cast riddled with H!ITG's like Mark Ruffalo, Irma P. Hall, Bruce McGill, and Peter Berg, the performances are top-notch. For Cruise, this is, perhaps, his "Training Day," a film where a popular, well-regarded actor plays dramatically against type and gets acclaim and (potentially) awards for doing so.
The problem is in the script. The plot depends almost entirely on coincidence and hiding pieces of information from the audience. In fact, I saw the major plot twist coming from very early on. Add to it plot holes sizable enough to drive a truck through, like the only person in the office the night before a major criminal trial being the lead prosecutor--no paralegals, no secretaries, nobody else at all, and the police and FBI apparently stopping following people after a major shootout, and you have some maddening problems.
That said, I didn't check my watch once during the run time of the movie (over two hours)--the style and performances are captivating enough that you overlook the plot holes. I did, however, kick the chairs of a person (directly in front of me) who decided to chat on their cell phone during the movie, and nearly shouted at the four groups who brought young children into the movie. Perhaps as an unmarried and childless young person I'm missing something, but is it too much to ask that you leave your kids at home when you're going to the evening showing of an "R" rated movie, or at least take them out of the theatre when they begin to cry and scream?