Great Scene: “Collateral”

Three guys, late night bar, Miles Davis… and an assassination.

Last week I put the call out on Twitter for some suggestions for the Great Scene series. Got a LOT of responses. We start working our way through them with today’s suggestion from @brianscully.

Movie: Collateral (2004), written by Stuart Beattie, directed by Michael Mann

IMDb plot summary: A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles.

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Scene Setup: Vincent (Tom Cruise) is the hit man. Max (Jamie Foxx) is the cab driver. They are seated in a jazz bar with Daniel (Barry Shabaka Henley). A casual conversation about music…

Things go along swimmingly until Vincent mentions “Culiacan and Bogota”. Then Daniel knows the jig is up… along with his lifespan.

A few interesting pieces of trivia:

  • The 8/24/03 script lists “revised draft by Frank Darabont” and “current revisions by Michael Mann”
  • The entire scene runs from PP. 43–50 in the script. That’s a long scene, but Michael Mann appears to enjoy extended scenes with meaningful and tense dialogue like this:
  • In the script, the conversation is not about Miles Davis, rather another jazz great: Louis Armstrong. So after Vincent shoots Daniel, this is the information about Armstrong he provides to the victim in answer to Vincent’s own question:

I wonder whether there was some sort of life-rights issue with the Louis Armstrong estate which led to the change? If you know the answer, click on RESPONSE and fill us in with the backstory. Or perhaps you just adore Collateral and Michael Mann movies. Love to hear from you.

If you have a suggestion for a Great Scene, don’t be shy, let me hear from you.

For more in the Great Scene series, go here.

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