May 2022

Collide (2017)

DIRECTOR: Eran Creevy

CAST: Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins


Filmed in 2014 for an October 2015 release, Collide was delayed by the bankruptcy of Relativity Media until being picked up by Open Road Films and eventually finding its way into a low-key February 2017 theatrical release.  In retrospect, it might as well have stayed on the shelf it had been gathering dust on.  Collide might be an adequately diverting action flick for the bored and undemanding, but it’s generic and disposable, and smacks of direct-to-video fare given a thin veneer of respectability with a slumming cast.

Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult) is a young American living in Germany, where he works as an errand boy for eccentric Turkish gangster Geran (Ben Kingsley), but is inspired to leave the criminal underground for a shot at romance with fellow American expat Juliette Marne (Felicity Jones), who catches his eye one night in a nightclub.  For a time, the two live in lovey-dovey bliss, but their peace is shattered one day when Juliette has a seizure and they learn she needs a kidney transplant.  To make matters worse, as she does not have German citizenship, she is not eligible for the procedure in Germany, and her only chance is to return to the United States.  To make some quick cash to pay for the trip and Juliette’s organ transplant, Casey comes crawling back to his old boss Geran, who tasks him with a dangerous job: pulling off a heist from Germany’s biggest druglord, Hagen Kahl (Anthony Hopkins).

Like, say, 2012’s Premium Rushthe premise is just a thin skeletal framework to string the action sequences together.  Unlike Premium Rush, director Eran Creevy is unable to film the car chases which should be the main attraction in any innovative or engaging ways.  Despite the promising idea of a car chase on the Autobahn, Collide rarely generates more than a sporadic fleeting burst of adrenaline, and the action, whether car chases, foot chases, or hand-to-hand fights, is filmed in sloppy, messy fashion where it’s more hard to follow than exciting (talk about squandering the Autobahn as a car chase filming location).  Like most of these kinds of silly action flicks, the good guys only last five minutes because the bad guy’s henchmen, despite being armed with automatic weapons and seemingly endless ammunition, can’t hit anything besides car windows and leave our hero alone with not one, but two bumbling torturers, so he can escape from ostensibly heavily-guarded headquarters.  The action continues in this uninspired vein of messy hodgepodge of corny “romantic” interludes and repetitive unlikely narrow escapes and car pileups, with the indestructible Casey managing to stagger out of vehicular carnage no more than battered and bruised and steal another conveniently available sports car snazzier than the last.  A little more self-aware tongue-in-cheek campiness might have made the silly proceedings more entertaining, but apart from Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins taking turns chewing the scenery as the hammy gangster villains, the movie takes itself entirely too earnestly seriously.  The romance between Casey and Juliette is skeletally developed despite the movie paying a lot of corny lip service to their love being the driving force behind Casey’s foolhardy actions, with their grand love affair consisting of a two minute montage of them having indistinct conversations and PG-13 sex, and showing what romantic free spirits they are by stripping and laying down in the snow.  Of course, Juliette is held hostage by the big bad.  A climactic “surprise reveal” wants to be a clever heist twist, but makes dubious sense.

At first glance, the cast—hot young up-and-comers Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones, and elder “distinguished thespians” Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley—might give a thin veneer of respectability, but they’re all slumming.  The flatly earnest Hoult and Jones are hamstrung by dopey dialogue and a thinly-developed relationship, while Ben Kingsley camps it up as his cartoonish gangster with a garbled accent that renders about half of his dialogue virtually unintelligible, and an only marginally less campy Anthony Hopkins cruises through on autopilot dropping droll one-liners being a patented generic Anthony Hopkins villain, meaning he wears nice suits and is polite and cultured while saying ominous things (also, despite apparently playing a German, Hopkins makes it clear he has one voice and is sticking with it, which, if Kingsley’s attempt at a “Turkish” accent is any indication, might be just as well).  One wonders if Felicity Jones recently starring in her own Star Wars movie (December’s Rogue One) had something to do with Collide being shoved into theaters after gathering dust on a shelf for years, but neither Jones nor Nicholas Hoult (both English actors playing Americans here) are likely to brag about this on their filmographies.  The young stars are unable to breathe much life into their bland characters, and Hopkins, as is often the case in recent years, is picking up a paycheck (that leaves Kingsley as the only one who might actually be enjoying himself, but whatever he’s doing seems more fun for him than it is for us to be watching).

With its breezy pace and slim 99 minute runtime, Collide at least doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it’s a waste of time either way, a rather silly by-the-numbers forgettable action “thriller” that is more tedious than thrilling.  This one could have stayed on the shelf.

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