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An American in Germany, Casey (Nicholas Hoult) is trying to escape his less-than-honorable past, and ends up a low-level bagman for a skeevy drug lord Geran (Ben Kingsley), who works out of the top floor of a swanky night club. It’s not good work. It’s dangerous and troublesome, but when he eyes the striking Juliette (Felicity Jones), another American working behind the counter, he has a change of heart about his career choice. That and she won’t date him if he keeps up what he’s doing.
So he quits. Walks away. Leaves Geran right then and there and he Juliette make a go of it. In fact, it’s not long before the two have fallen in love, moved in together, and both have square jobs, making a real life together. Naturally, that’s but a pipe dream as Juliette’s kidney’s fail and the young woman is faced with dialysis and a transplant to stay alive, something that, being only visitors in the country doesn’t come cheap. It’s back to real work for Casey, who reluctantly returns to Geran, who has him go big on a huge job against Geran’s mob boss Hagen (Anthony Hopkins) who refuses to give him an equal share in the game. Steal a truck filled with drugs and Casey can have big money, but when the gig goes bad, and Hagen finds out who did it, a chase is on across Germany and the bad guys goes after Juliette.
Directed by Eran Creevy, Collide starts, as many films do these days, with something impactful happening to the main character before the film flashes back to how they ended up as they are. In this case, it’s a horrific car accident on the German Autobahn that leaves Casey rather incapacitated and in a reflective mood as he extolls on the value of love as a motive for doing what he does. Creevy clearly is a fan of the genre and goes well out of his way to prop up the tropes of ones that have come before it, with eccentric villains, everyman good guys, damsels in distress, and absurd plot lines to layer the moments between the action. There are moments that fail wholeheartedly, and yet there are some that work surprisingly well. Creevy does action best, the setup, not so much.
It’s a slow start that attempts to establish the character’s intent, as the romance kicks off with awkward and expositional dialogue that is uncomfortable at best with some stiff performances and nearly no chemistry. It isn’t helped by Kingsley’s supremely odd take as a broken-English-speaking maniac with a penchant for 80s John Travolta films and a bevy of empty-eyed half-naked harlots traipsing about. It’s cartoonish and feels like something of a broad parody. We do however get a nice moment between him and Hopkins that makes for the unlit fuse that comes into play later.
Fortunately, things greatly improve once Casey goes on the run, and run he does. Shifting to a chase movie, Collide does much better and Creevy is well within his element as he fills the screen with stunt after stunt that while perhaps over-the-top, manages to be not just compelling, but downright thrilling. He crashes cars and zooms through downtown and city and highway traffic with great style, including a fantastic moment in a flipping car that sends Casey into a dream-like state, followed by a truly effective slo-motion moment where he collects himself and re-acquires his path of escape.
While the action is top-notch, the story itself is paper-thin, and the Juliette plot is simply incredulous and more than a little forced. Filmed three years ago, well before Jones was cast in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, she’s not used quite so well, even if she is the most rounded of the cast in her big blonde hair. It’s really too bad, and is representative of the movie as a whole, one that is cast with big names but is just too goofy for its own good, trying to be too many things at once, with distracting supporting performances and a nonsensical finale. Worth it for chase fans, it comes up short everywhere else.
Movie description: Collide is a 2017 action thriller about a good-natured young man caught up in a bad situation trying to save the woman he loves.
Director(s): Eran Creevy
Actor(s): Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins