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Collateral

November 5, 2015

ColAn ordinary cabbie is caught up in the world of a contract killer.

The big question, towards the end, is: If our planet is just a tiny speck on then edge of the universe. Does anyone care if some people die? Sure, loved ones will but they’ll be dead too. Does it matter in the great scheme of things, if there is one. Which is tantamount to asking if there is a God.

The plot is simple and straightforward: Vincent, played wonderfully by Tom Cruise, is a contract killer. His job is to kill five people in one night who are going to testify against his client. Max, played superbly by Jamie Fox, is a fastidious, nice, caring cab driver who is gracious to his passengers, takes care of his sick mother in the hospital, tries to do the right thing, and has a dream of starting his own limousine company. Max says that driving a cab is just a part-time job, but he’s been doing it for 12 years!

Vincent commandeers Max and his cab to go on his Los Angeles killing spree. When the first body lands on Max’s cab, Max realizes what’s happening and wants out, but Vincent is too fast and literally holds him hostage. Meanwhile, the police are hot on the trail of the killings, and the federal agents have been investigating the drug dealer that they’re brining to trial and are naturally upset that their witnesses are being murdered.

Everything comes to a head with the last target – a U.S. attorney named Annie, with whom Max had a special rapport when he drove her in his cab. Max fights valiantly to rescue her before Vincent can kill her.

 Themes: indifference, fatalism and morality. How should we care about others, and why? the value of humanity, When people remain disassociated from each other, they tend to care less about each other than they should, Faith without deeds is useless, self-sacrifice

“Clearly, the violent events of September 11 have affected the entertainment industry. This week, audiences and critics realized how much the experience of watching a movie has changed. The reviews of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new action flick Collateral Damage might have been different if it had opened during the summer. Since 9/11, the hero-versus-terrorist genre is one that critics would like to forget. Who can believe anymore in the wild antics of a brawny hero who can single-handedly outwit and overthrow terrorists? Implausible at best, this premise is insulting and even damaging at worst. For example, Stephen Hunter (The Washington Post) describes Schwarzenegger’s movie as “a telegram from a dead world. It hails from an America that no longer exists.” Others went so far as to say it should have been canceled out of respect for the true heroes.” http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/movies/collateral-damage-11621322.html

Australian Stuart Beattie was only 17 when he took a cab home from Sydney airport. It was on that cab ride that he had the idea of a homicidal maniac sitting in the back of a cab with the driver nonchalantly entering into conversation with him, trusting his passenger implicitly. Beattie drafted his idea into a two-page treatment. Later, when he was enrolled at Oregon State University, he fleshed it out into his first screenplay. Entitled “The Last Domino”, he put the script away, taking it out occasionally for revisions and rewrites over the following years.

Stuart Beattie was waiting tables when he ran into a friend called Julie Richardson, who he’d met on a UCLA Screenwriting Extension course. Richardson had become a producer on the lookout for good thriller scripts in particular. Beattie pitched her his screenplay “The Last Domino” and she liked it. Her boss Frank Darabont also liked it and set up a meeting with HBO. They passed on the project after Beattie submitted another draft. He then begged his agent to set up a meeting at DreamWorks where an executive called Marc Haines read the script over a weekend. The studio bought the screenplay the following week.

Vincent: Max, six billion people on the planet, you’re getting bent out of shape cause of one fat guy.

Max: Well, who was he?

Vincent: What do you care? Have you ever heard of Rwanda?

Max: Yes, I know Rwanda.

Vincent: Well, tens of thousands killed before sundown. Nobody’s killed people that fast since Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Did you bat an eye, Max?

Max: What?

Vincent: Did you join Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Whales, Greenpeace, or something? No. I off one fat Angelino and you throw a hissy fit.

Max: Man, I don’t know any Rwandans.

Vincent: You don’t know the guy in the trunk, either.

[last lines] Vincent: Guy gets on the subway and dies. Think anybody’ll notice?

Vincent: Get with it. Millions of galaxies of hundreds of millions of stars, in a speck on one in a blink. That’s us, lost in space. The cop, you, me… Who notices?

Vincent: Look in the mirror. Paper towels, clean cab. Limo company some day. How much you got saved?

Max: That ain’t any of your business.

Vincent: Someday? Someday my dream will come? One night you will wake up and discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you. It never will. Suddenly you are old. Didn’t happen, and it never will, because you were never going to do it anyway. You’ll push it into memory and then zone out in your barco lounger, being hypnotized by daytime TV for the rest of your life. Don’t you talk to me about murder. All it ever took was a down payment on a Lincoln town car. That girl,you can’t even call that girl. What the fuck are you still doing driving a cab?

Vincent: Take comfort in knowing you never had a choice.

Max: Hey. [stuttering] He, he, he fell on the cab. He fell, he fell from up there on the motherfucking cab. Shit. I think he’s dead.

Vincent: Good guess.

Max: You killed him?

Vincent: No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.

[after Vincent and Max load a corpse into the cab’s trunk] Vincent: Lets go.

Max: Hey, why don’t you just take the cab?

Vincent: Take the cab?

Max: Yeah, you take it. I’ll – I’ll chill. I’ll – I’ll just chill. They don’t even know who’s driving these things half the time anyway. They never check or anything. Okay… so… just – just take it. You, me…

Vincent: You promise not to tell anybody right?

Max: Yeah… yeah… yeah… promise.

Vincent: Get in the fucking car.

Vincent: Okay, look, here’s the deal. Man, you were gonna drive me around tonight, never be the wiser, but El Gordo got in front of a window, did his high dive, we’re into Plan B. Still breathing? Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it.

Max: I Ching? What are you talking about, man? You threw a man out of a window.

Vincent: I didn’t throw him. He *fell*

Max: Well what did he do to you?

Vincent: What?

Max: What did he do to *you*?

Vincent: Nothing. I only met him tonight.

Max: You just met him once and you killed him like that?

Vincent: What? I should only kill people after I get to know them?

Fanning: [cops are in alley outside Ramon’s apartment] Ramon went through that window… splat. Glass here, then tires rolled over it.

Richard Weidner: Maybe he jumped.

Fanning: Sure… he’s depressed so he jumps four stories out of a window onto his head. “Wow, that feels better.” Picks himself up. “Now I think I’ll go on with the rest of my day.”

Max: I can’t drive you around while you’re killing folks. It ain’t my job!

Vincent: Tonight it is.

Vincent: There’s no good reason, there’s no bad reason to live or to die.

Max: Then what are you?

Vincent: I’m indifferent.

Vincent: They project onto you their flaws, what they don’t like about themselves. I had a father like that.

Max: Mothers are worse.

Vincent: Wouldn’t know. My mother died before I remember her.

Max: What about your father?

Vincent: Hated everything I did. Got drunk, beat me up. In and out of foster homes, that kinda thing.

Max: And then?

Vincent: I killed him. I was twelve. [pauses, then laughs] I’m kidding. He died of liver disease.

Max: Well, I’m sorry.

Vincent: No, you’re not.

Max: First time in L.A.?

Vincent: No. Tell you the truth, whenever I’m here I can’t wait to leave. It’s too sprawled out, disconnected. You know? That’s me. You like it?

Max: It’s my home.

Vincent: 17 million people. This is got to be the fifth biggest economy in the world and nobody knows each other. I read about this guy who gets on the MTA here, dies.

Max: Oh.

Vincent: Six hours he’s riding the subway before anybody notices his corpse doing laps around L.A., people on and off sitting next to him. Nobody notices.

Max: You’re full of shit.

Vincent: I’m full of shit? You’re a monument of it. You even bullshitted yourself, all I am is taking out the garbage, killing bad people.

Max: Yeah, well that’s what you said.

Vincent: You believed me?

Max: Then what’d they do?

Vincent: How do I know, you know? They all got that ‘witness for the prosecution’ look to me. Probably some major federal indictment of somebody who majorly does not want to get indicted.

Vincent: Most people – same job, same gig, doing the same thing 10 years from now. Us, we don’t know what we are doing 10 minutes from now.

Max: I’m not taking you to see my mother.

Vincent: Since when was any of this negotiable?

Vincent: [Visiting Ida] Flowers?

Max: It’s the money. Won’t mean a thing to her.

Vincent: [Staring him down] She carried you in her womb for nine months. If you can buy flowers, buy flowers.

Felix: Do you believe in Santa Claus?

Max: No.

Felix: Nor do I. Nor do I, but my children do. They are still small. But do you know who they like even better than Santa Claus? His helper, Pedro el Negro. Black Peter. There’s an old Mexican tale that tells of how Santa Claus got so very busy looking out for the good children that he had to hire some help to look out for the bad children. So he hired Pedro. And Santa Claus gave him a list with all the names of all the bad children. And Pedro would come every night to check them out. And the people, the little kids that were misbehaving, that were not saying their prayers, Pedro would leave a little toy donkey on their window. A little burro. And he would come back, and if the children were still misbehaving, Pedro would take them away, and nobody would ever see them again. Now, if I am being Santa Claus, and you are Pedro, how do you think jolly Santa Claus would feel if one day Pedro came into his office and said, ‘I lost the list.’ How fucking furious do you think he will get?

Max: I think… I think you should tell the guy standing behind me to put his gun away.

Felix: What?

Max: I said, I think you should tell him to put the gun down before I rip it out of his hand and beat his bitch-ass to death with it.

Vincent: You’re alive. I saved you. Do I get any thanks? No. All you can do is clam up. You wanna talk? Tell me to fuck off?

Max: Fuck off.

Max: Why didn’t you just kill me and get another cab driver?

Vincent: Cause you’re good. We’re in this together. Fates intertwined. Cosmic Coincidence.

[warning Max when two policemen have them pulled over] Vincent: If you open that trunk, they go inside.

Vincent: You attract attention, you’re going to get people killed who didn’t need to be.

Vincent: Someday my dream will come. One night you’ll wake up and you’ll discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you and it never will. Suddenly you are old, didn’t happened and it never will, ’cause you were never going to do it anyway.

Vincent: Of all the cabbies in L.A. I get Max, Sigmund Freud meets Dr. Ruth.

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