Starring: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena, Larenz Tate
Director: Paul Haggis
It will come as no surprise that some people in the movie industry are simply just more talented than others. Jack of all trades Paul Haggis is certainly one of those people, but it wasn’t until he was credited for his work on last year’s Best Picture winner, “Million Dollar Baby,” that he got his share of the spotlight. Due to his recent success with Clint Eastwood, Haggis’ latest film, “Crash” (which he wrote and directed), is getting more attention than usual for an independent feature, but it’s every bit deserving. Featuring an all-star cast of talent, "Crash" brings to life an incredible story about real-world problems.
There are easily 12 characters that command the attention of the audience throughout the film, and all of their stories skillfully crash in to one another’s to create a giant cycle of chaotic racial intolerance. Just as the film begins with a car crash, so does it end with one, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that the main story revolves around the characters of the initial crash, LAPD detective Graham (Don Cheadle) and his partner/lover Ria (Jennifer Esposito). Graham is investigating a botched undercover assignment that the District Attorney (Brendan Fraser) is hoping to use as a campaign tool for his re-election. The D.A. hopes to win over the city’s large black vote by putting away a crooked white cop when he and his wife, Jean (Sandra Bullock), are carjacked by a pair of black thieves (Ludacris and Larenz Tate).
Scared for her life, Jean orders her husband to increase security in their home, but after eyeing Latino locksmith Daniel (Michael Pena) for a gang member, she wants it done again…by someone that doesn’t have “prison tattoos.” Daniel makes the necessary changes, quickly visits his sleeping daughter at home, and gets to his next job where an Iranian shopkeeper (Shaun Toub) accuses Daniel of cheating him. On the other side of town, another corrupt cop (Matt Dillon) is out showing his rookie partner (Ryan Phillippe) the ropes when he randomly pulls over a black couple – a Hollywood director (Terrence Howard) and his wife (Thandie Newton) – and decides to harass them. This all takes place within the first 30 minutes, where the events that follow serve as a means of reawakening for every character.
”Crash” is really about the rage created from racial intolerance and the foolish actions that develop because of it. What’s great about the film is that is has a certain broad appeal that will likely drive large audiences to theaters in order to see their favorite actors, but it also offers a unique theater experience that surveys the current racial indifferences that still face our society. The script is filled with clever plot turns and riveting dialogue you would only expect from guys like Tarantino and Mamet, but it’s delivered with full force by Haggis, and warrants him an early nomination for his work. In fact, nearly every role is award worthy, as well as the film as a whole, which begs to ask the ultimate question: “Why was this released so damn early? It takes only a certain amount of knowledge to recognize the patterns that form around the year-end award shows. Honoring brilliant pictures released during the summer season isn’t one of them, but let’s hope for the future of Hollywood that this is practice ends sooner rather than later.
The single-disc DVD release of the sleeper hit drama "Crash" includes an introduction by director/writer Paul Haggis and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. By far the best extra on the set though, is the full-length audio commentary with director Haggis and producer/co-star Don Cheadle, which offers great insight into the overall production of the film.