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The Guns of Collateral

Michael Mann is one of the best directors when it comes to gritty action, subtlety and atmosphere. All of his flicks are worth watching.

Jamie Fox was pretty much a worthless stand-up comic that was best known for pretending to be a retarded black woman... no one expected Fox to be able to act with any real depth. But Fox did it... Mann pulled out the real talent and put Fox on a whole new level. Ever since this film was made, you can see in Fox a much greater depth than the directors are using. (The movie Stealth is an example)

Tom Cruise trained for months to learn how to really handle handguns and to use them correctly. His acting was pushed to the limit as well. He wasn't able to float through the film with Mann because he was the Star. Stars don't mean a thing to Mann... he builds the characters and the actors together... no one else does this. No one but Mann can do it.

And one of the biggest characters in this movie is the city. This is a Mann trademark. The city streets from the curb up and from the roof tops down... Mann puts you in that city. You feel it. You're there. Your in this city filled with 17 million other people.... your a citizen of it. Mann makes it real.

Collateral doesn't have a great many guns, but when they are used, they are crucial. It's because of the significance of these few weapons in the film, it gives them more weight. So lets take a look at them.

Mark Ruffalo is the actor playing the detective that we see pull out a handgun first. This guy is an undercover detective working a drug case and he comes into a shady hotel room clearing it while looking for his contact. The gun he's using is a Smith & Wesson 3rd Generation automatic. Which specific model of 3rd gen that we see on the screen is very hard to tell... I'm not sure which one this is. It's not that important here, it's never fired. I like the 3rd Gens, and then I don't like them. They are great handguns in almost every aspect save for one. They are very reliable, they are accurate, they are smooth with great actions and they even have good triggers. So what is not to like about them? I don't like the ergonomics of them. The grips feel like complete crap. They are wrong in my hands, and they are wrong in a lot of guys hands. If that grip frame was just a little different, these Smiths would be world class. Instead, they are only “Also Rans.” The second or third place losers in a race. If they do fit in your hand... then roll with them because they are fantastic. They are probably on par or even maybe a tad bit better than even a SIG Sauer. The Smith is a good choice for a cop gun. It looked better than a Glock and less cliché than a Beretta or something along those lines. The Smith is also a pretty well known cop gun around the USA.

We see this gun again at the ending of the flick when Vincent rolls a Security Guard in the lawyer Annie's building and uses it to go after Max and the girl. It works here as well because the Smiths are very affordable handguns and can be purchased in lots with good discounts. If you are going to outfit a bunch of cops or guards and you want to provide them with a quality weapon at an affordable price, the Smiths are a great choice.  Just not a personal favorite of mine, for my own use.

The most well known gun in this show is Vincent's HK USP. The USP is not a flashy or fancy weapon by any means, and this works perfectly for Vincent's character. He's the nondescript guy that can walk through a crowd of people and not one of them could remember what he looked like. The USP is the same way. But the USP, like Vincent, had a lot of skills that you don't notice on the surface. They are rugged, reliable, accurate and can fire overpowered loads with little problem. They are not expensive custom guns, but they are trust worthy. If you were a high level hitman who had your guns and target list dropped off to you in a bag switch at the airport as soon as you got off the plane, what gun would you trust more? Out of the box, no examination, that's the gun you are going to use when you put yourself on the line... I couldn't think of anything else short of a S&W 686 or a Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum. For a .45 automatic, HK USP is it... that or a SIG P220. The HK makes a lot of sense.  Mann picks his guns very well.

What doesn't make a lick of sense is the Ruger MK II .22 with attached suppressor that Vincent uses to take out the Bluesman. This is the only time that he uses the .22, and he does so with a quick 3 shot group to the forehead. We see Vincent pull the gun out from under his coat, getting ready to make the hit, but the motion of that pull is not large enough for the long .22. The other thing, if the people who hired him wanted to have a suppressor, why not just add a .45 can to Vincent's kit and he can screw it on to the HK when he needed it to simplify things? A lot of people think that a suppressed .22 is the weapon of choice for assassins. This isn't true. Hushed 147 grain hollow point 9MM is, but that is another topic.

Let's roll forward to the Club Scene. The target is a wealthy but evidently slimy Asian guy that likes to hang out and a dance club. A very hot dance club filled with even hotter Asian girls dancing around. Wow. But that's another topic. This is where most of the guns in the show come out to play.

As soon as the FBI guys show up, we see one guy jump out of a Suburban with an M-4 carbine with a Surefire tactical light mounted on the handguards. I'm not going to get into the problems of rolling into a crowded dance club with a weapon that will send multiple rounds zipping through people like cognitive thoughts through Brittany Spear's head. In and out without slowing down.

The FBI agents work through the crowd looking for Max, who they think is Vincent, and we see that one of them is packing a Glock of one flavor or another... I'm not going to spend any time talking about the Glock, but that it was spotted by one of the target's bodyguards. The bodyguard calls out and warns the others and then draws out his handgun. This is an interesting handgun. It looks to be either a CZ or an EAA Witness. I can make out the shape of the safety lever, but not the shape of the sides of the slide at the muzzle end, so I can't tell exactly. Saying it's a Witness is probably a safe bet. The EAA Witness family of handguns are generally pretty good guns. Some are rough, but all of them can be made to be great shooters with some loving attention from a skilled gunsmith. If you have the chance to take a closer look at one of them, do so. The Witnesses are Italian made clones of the CZ-75 handgun, one of my favorite pistols. If this pistol is a two tone CZ... then dang... that's a cool handgun.

Cool or not, the guy pulling it is a freaking moron. His gun arm gets grabbed so he responds by just blasting randomly... hitting the lead FBI guy in the process. Well done, idiot. This of course starts a panic. Other bodyguards draw down and get stupid. One is holding a Steyr TMP and another is packing a Ruger P95. The guy with the Ruger does some shooting. I'm not a fan of the Ruger automatics, and I don't think I ever will be. But they are not bad shooters at all. The Steyr however is perhaps one of the most useless weapons on the planet. They are huge, bulky and really only good for turning ammo into noise. They really need an attachable shoulder stock to be effective.

We see glimpses of some other guns, various random handguns and even a chopped down pump action shotgun. None of these guns do as much damage as Vincent does, who goes to work with a knife and a baton. Tom Cruise really does a good job here... I have to give him credit. He makes a great psycho. Notice the influence of his tactical trainers and the way he reloads. Well done, Tom. Now Tom demonstrates some very good moves in the film but the best one is when he drops two armed thugs who tried to steal his briefcase. This is a threat scenario that firearms trainers often use to teach people how best to respond. Let's look at the scene for a moment. The thug with the case, we'll call him Thug A. Thug A has a gun drawn and ready and pointed at Vincent. Vincent acts like he's complying with the thug's commands but instead of pulling his wallet he pulls out his HK. Vincent engages the thug with a perfect close quarter draw. Notice how his gun is held close to his side and his non-firing hand is held up out of the way up on his chest. The way he does this reduces the risk of the thug grabbing his gun. Of course it's hard to grab a gun when your busy catching a pair of .45 caliber slugs. Thug B sees that things have gone so very wrong, so he begins to draw his gun. Too late for him. Vincent turns his gun on Thug B and pushes it forward to deliver well aimed shots to stop the threat Thug B posed. Having done that, he goes back to Thug A and makes sure A is down for the count. This is executed in about second and a half.

Buy the Collateral DVD and watch that scene over and over again. Then practice those moves. Tom performs them flawlessly.

Mann pulls no punches when he makes a movie.





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