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Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 06:53 pm

Well Done “Collide,” a Guilty Pleasure

It was with a sense of giddiness that I entered a local theater to see Eran Creevy’s Collide.  I love it when great actors go slumming and this low-concept chase film has two of them - Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley.  I anticipated a great deal of ham to be sliced between these two grand actors and I wasn’t disappointed, as they more than kept up with the various hurtling autos that rent the scenery throughout. 

This sort of movie, which was once made on a show-string budget and played at the bottom of a double bill at the drive-in, now requires $30 million to bring to the screen and six different production companies to share the risk.  It should be noted that for all its shortcomings, there’s no question that every cent of this outlay is on the screen as the vehicular damage is extensive and frequent. 

Casey (Nicholas Hoult) and Juliette (Felicity Jones) barely have time to catch their breath in Collide.
Courtesy Open Road Films

The plot, such as it is revolves around two American expatriates, Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult) and Juliette Marne (Felicity Jones) who fall in love and then get involved with some very powerful, ruthless drug dealers.  Seems she needs a kidney transplant, can’t get it in Germany where they live and so he agrees to carry out a nefarious deed for Turkish pusher Geran (Kingsley).  He and his partner (Marwan Kenzari) are to hijack a truck filled with cocaine belonging to Hagen Kahl (Hopkins), a respectable business magnate who runs dope on the side. Needless to say, their simple plan proves to be not so simple, as many bad guys chase the good guys across Germany and vehicular mayhem ensues.

It seems as though Creevy and fellow screenwriter F. Scott Frazier set out to make a chase film for all people.  At one time or another there are motorcycles, semi-trucks, a station wagon, a sedan, a SUV and a convertible involved in hot pursuit which take place in cities, villages, the country, on the highway, cobblestone streets and finally the Autobahn.  A foot chase is also thrown in for those viewers who like their pursuits of a more basic variety.  (A sequence at a racetrack had me thinking we’d get some horses involved as well, but alas it was not to be.) Most all the bases are covered where chases are concerned and to Creevy’s credit, they’re all done to generate maximum thrills and are put together so that we can follow the action.  The bottom line is, they really know how to destroy some cars.

As far as the acting is concerned, players in movies such as this tend to be nothing more than window dressing but the main cast doesn’t phone it in.  Jones is given little to do but her soulful line readings and deep doe-like eyes make you understand why a healthy young man would tear up half of Germany in her service. Hoult is quite good, looking appropriately distressed, hopeful or in pain as the situation requires.

Bad guys Hagen (Anthony Hopkins) and Geran (Ben Kingsley) go toe-to-toe In Collide.
Courtesy Open Road Films

However, its Kingsley and Hopkins you gravitate to whenever they appear and for good reason.  It’s obvious these two veterans are having fun, the former bedecked in gold jumpsuits, garish jewelry and sporting an outrageous accent, while the latter oozes menace, relishing the many monologues he’s given, unnecessarily elongating syllables, changing moods on a dime. Kingsley and Hopkins share the screen twice and while these meetings aren’t on par with the dinner scene between Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in Heat, they’ll do as an example of master actors doing their all to elevate the dreck they’ve been handed. 

You really can’t have enough popcorn where a movie like Collide is concerned.  It’s an empty calorie, cinematic confection that, while derivative, is at least well done.  Chalk it up as a guilty pleasure you’re likely to forget about by the time you reach your car.  That being said, I can’t believe I didn’t mention that there’s a subway car in play too… 

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