Directed by: Eran Creevy
Premise: An American criminal (Nicholas Hoult) living abroad in Germany abandons his lifestyle when he meets the love of his life (Felicity Jones). When the girlfriend is in need of money for a kidney transplant, he accepts a heist job that goes bad.
What Works: Collide is a reworking of the “one last heist” scenario that’s popular in crime movies. The filmmakers manage to elevate the premise above clichés by creating a couple of credible scenarios around it. The action is set in motion by the decisions of background characters. A scummy narcotics distributor, played by Ben Kingsley, meets with his high society supplier, played by Anthony Hopkins. They have a business arrangement that is unequal in the supplier’s favor. Kingsley’s character requests a better deal and when he’s denied the distributor organizes a hit on a shipment of drug money. In the foreground is the relationship between Collide’s two lead characters, a free spirited young woman played by Felicity Jones and her boyfriend with a criminal past played by Nicholas Hoult. When Jones’ character faces a health crisis, the boyfriend returns to his criminal past by taking the job of boosting the drug money. The motivations in the foreground and background of the story give the action more meaning than the average heist film and adds some drama to the action. Collide is primarily a chase movie; once the heist goes bad Hoult’s character must find his girlfriend, get her out of harm’s way, and deliver the money to his boss all while being pursued by Anthony Hopkins’ character and his agents. For as much action and as many car chases as there are in Collide, the action generally remains credible. The filmmakers don’t overdo it in the way that big budget action pictures tend to do and the chases and crashes retain a palatable impact. What must be mentioned about Collide is Ben Kingsley’s performance as a local crime lord. Kingsley turns everything up to eleven, adding a lot of humor to the movie and brightening every scene he is in.
What Doesn’t: Aside from Kingsley’s performance, most everything else about Collide is generic. This film is reminiscent of the kind of thing Roger Corman would have made forty years ago. Collide has better production values than a Corman film and it sports a higher caliber of acting talent but Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones don’t have much of a romantic spark. The audience must want the couple to be together in order to invest in their relationship and the outcome of the movie. The actors are sabotaged by clumsy dialogue and Jones isn’t given much to do. The actress clearly tries to break out of the girlfriend role and inject some dimension into the character but she’s absent from much of the screen time and when she is involved Jones’ character is relegated to the part of girlfriend in distress. One obvious problem that’s not resolved is that Jones’ character explicitly tells her boyfriend not to take the heist job but he does it anyway, putting both of them in mortal danger. What that says about their relationship and both his and the filmmakers’ regard for her is never addressed. There are a few elements to the story of Collide that strain the movie’s credibility, even for an action picture. In one of several moments in which the drug supplier’s minions catch up to the hero, Hopkins’s character actually shows up at a gas station and starts shooting people. For a guy who maintains a respectable public image, it makes no sense for him to commit murder in a public place that certainly has security cameras. The ending of Collide is fraught with logical problems, the main flaw being a twist that is supposed to reveal how smart the hero is but actually makes his previous behavior look irrational and the twist pokes logical holes into the earlier parts of the story.
Bottom Line: Collide isn’t a great movie but it’s not entirely a bad one either. It’s merely adequate, the kind of movie that’s worth watching when it plays on cable television on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Episode: #637 (March 5, 2017)