Very few bad movies start out meaning to be bad, but make no mistake: Collide is a bad movie.
Obviously, someone saw Nicholas Hoult in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and thought, “We should put him behind the wheel as a high-speed car thief, but what should that story be?”
What they came up with was Hoult playing Casey Stein, a car thief who has gone straight for the love of a cute blonde American bartender named Juliette (Felicity Jones) When they learn she needs an expensive kidney transplant, Casey agrees to help his former boss Geron (Ben Kingsley) hijack a truck full of smuggled drugs belonging to the deadly overlord Hagen Khal (Anthony Hopkins). When things go wrong, Casey is taken for interrogation, and Juliette soon becomes a target for Hagen and his men.
Over 40 minutes into the movie, Hoult finally gets behind the wheel of a high-speed sports car to escape from his captors but quickly ditches it in favor of a less sexy stolen station wagon topped with a family’s vacation luggage. At one point, this film was called “Autobahn,” and yes, the German freeway does make an appearance about an hour into the movie, but it’s not quite as impressive a location as it might have seemed on paper, especially with the lame car Hoult steals to try to escape his captors.
It’s a good general rule that any action movie that includes a scene at a rave is bound to be terrible, so it’s not any comfort when Collide actually begins with one such scene as Casey and Juliette meet at a German nightclub where she’s bartending. This is followed by a quick montage showing their first months of dating, maybe hoping to convince viewers of their true love to create the much-needed connection so that one might care about the characters. It only half works.
Anyone who has had high hopes for Felicity Jones after her Oscar-nominated performance in The Theory of Everything or her more recent role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story might wonder why she agreed to what is essentially a “damsel in distress” role. Many of the scenes between her and Hoult are merely to solidify their relationship and how his love for her forces his return to crime. Calling Jones’ character “Juliette” is particularly on the nose, even before Hopkins’ character feels the need to remind us. That’s how little this movie thinks of those who pay to see it.
Ben Kingsley’s over-the-top performance as Geron doesn’t help matters, either. He gives his all to create the most ridiculous character with an equally horrendous accent, who is constantly surrounded by half-nude hookers. Hopkins is only slightly better, as he quotes poetry and tries to create a villain with a little more class, but even he goes off the rails at least once. When an early scene between these two dramatic powerhouses quickly falls flat on its face, you know you’re in trouble.
Directed by Eran Creevy, who helmed the British indie crime flick Welcome to the Punch, this movie often comes across like he’s out of his depth, especially in terms of shooting the action, using so many close-ups and fast edits, it’s hard to watch at times. We can probably blame Paul Greengrass for that one.
The results end up being about on par with something you’d expect to find heading directly to VOD, although the amount of money spent on this one must have made it feel more necessary to give it a wider theatrical release.
The real shocker comes when the end credits roll, and you see the words “Produced by Joel Silver” making you wonder, “What has happened to the guy responsible for Lethal Weapon and so many great action flicks?” But Silver probably isn’t as much to blame as the seven or eight financers listed at the film’s opening, because everyone knows that too many cooks (especially the ones with money) often spoil everything.
Maybe there’s an alternate universe where a better director tackled this material in a more entertaining way, but Collide is poorly conceived and executed, and it doesn’t even feel like something that can be laughed about when it shows up on cable… which will probably be very soon.