Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Retro Movie Review: "Crash"

Previously, I reviewed Brokeback Mountain, one of the early favorites to win a boatload of awards at the 2006 Academy Awards. I did not have a high opinion of that film, but how would the eventual winner of Best Picture Crash fair? Would it too be a disappointment, further proof that the 2005-2006 Oscar race was overblown?

Luckily, Crash is not a bad movie. While it is not a groundshaking, landmark film that some claimed Brokeback (though some did try to hoist that description onto this movie, labeling it a movie about racism), it was still entertaining. Almost surprisingly so. Most of the characters in the movie are caricatures. The black criminal spouts disparaging remarks about white people, the rich white woman is a bitch, et cetera, et cetera. And while most of these portrayals are unrealistic, most of them vibrate with quiet excellence.

Matt Dillion plays his racist cop with over-the-top aplomb for 3/4 of the movie, only to pull a believable reversal in the final quarter. Don Cheadle is the center of the movie, playing his detective close to the chest, never really showing any emotion either way until his arc is concluded. There are also solid performances by the like of Brendan Frasier, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Terrance Howard (playing a man more than twice his age) and surprisingly, rapper Ludicrous. Most rap artists-turned-actors play larger than life characters in their first roles, but Luda's performance is more down to earth than that, even though he is playing the black criminal caricature I mentioned before.

The movie does have its faults though. Much like Magnolia, the movie suffers for being a character-driven story and sacrifices some real world ramifications for "growth". There is a lot of illegal activity or harmful acts that go on in Crash, for all sorts of people, but no one is ever punished. In fact, the one character who does get punished (he/she dies) could be seen as one of the hearts of the movie. But other than that, people shoot each other, assualt one another, and there are no reprecussions other than a possible guilty conscience. These sorts of movies make it hard for me to get totally into them: on the one hand, they are asking us to view the real world in a different light, but on the other, they substitute the real world for their fantasy world to prove their point.

All in all, Crash is an enjoyable movie if you view it as a exaggerated characters acting in the pseudo-real world. Did it deserve the Best Picture Oscar? Probably not. But it is still is a fine movie.

3 Crisscrossing Storylines out of 5

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Blogger David McIntyre said...

What? No rating?

11:51 PM  
Blogger Adam Entertainment said...

You know, I forgot that. I'll edit it in now.

7:58 PM  

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