In this thriller, a Los Angeles cabbie named Max (Jamie Foxx) picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise) for what he believes will be a routine fare. Vincent needs to make several quick stops throughout the city to conduct business and is willing to pay Max well for the exclusive use of his services during the evening. After the first stop, a bloody body falls from several stories onto Max’s cab. It turns out that Vincent is a contract killer. Vincent’s intent is to use the reluctant cab driver as “collateral” to aid him in this calculated shooting spree across the city. With LAPD and the FBI on their trail, Max makes several attempts to thwart Vincent’s progress. The suspense builds as the audience gets into the minds and motives of these two men during the rampage that takes place in one night. It is up to Max to find a way to stop the hired henchman from killing the victims on his list.
In Collateral, Max is basically a good, hardworking man. He is mentally manipulated and physically forced into a hostile partnership with Vincent. Vincent’s moral code somehow permits him to use people if he pays them and then to take the lives of others if he is being paid for it. He shows no emotion, no regret, no remorse. Vincent views human life as insignificant. To him, killing is simply a business transaction. Violence plays a big part of Collateral as people are systematically killed, but most of the story involves Max and Vincent talking as they drive around.