Crash (2004)

by | Sep 13, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Crash (2004)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito,
William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrance Howard, Chris “Ludacris”
Studio: Lions Gate
Video: Widescreen enhanced for 16:9
Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: DVD Introduction by Director Paul Haggis; Crash Behind the
Scenes; Commentary with Paul Haggis, Don Cheadle and Bobby Moresco;
Theatrical Trailers
Length: 122 minutes
Rating: *****

Paul Haggis intertwines the stories of more than 15 characters in his
directorial debut, Crash, a film that portrays a Los Angeles rife with
immeasurable racial bigotry. One of the film’s over-arching ironies is
that it exposes Los Angeles as an American melting pot, representing
African-Americans, Anglos, Hispanics, Iranians, and Asian-Americans, as
a mix that is just too loaded to correct itself. Or is it? Powerful
performances ask viewers to ride along as the stories play out on a
rocky terrain whose central topics are collision, crime, civic duty,
and the possibility of redemption.

The powerful and the powerless collide at times carefully and at other
times carelessly. The story line is so meticulously created that the
two sometimes can’t be delineated. When a Los Angeles detective, played
by Don Cheadle, faces a tremendous dilemma forced on him by a shrewd
superior, he stands at a crossroads between familial loyalty and
ethical detective work. His once in a lifetime decision is cancelled
out in the end though, leaving him in a kind of moral and emotional
wasteland, both with his family and at work. In another incident
though, when a criminal, Anthony, played by rapper Ludacris, frees a
group of Asians who were intended to be sold into slavery, viewers
watch them disperse into the city rather than disappear into a worse
fate, as suggested by the chains that earlier bound them.

Two other central characters, intersect when Officer Ryan, a racist cop
(played by Matt Dillon), pulls over Cameron, a TV director (played by
Terrence Dashon Howard), and his beautiful light-skinned wife (played
by Thandie Newton). Ryan mistakes her for white and suspects she and
her husband of illicit behavior while driving. The scene is capped by
Ryan’s invasive search of the wife, and later leads Cameron to a
violent struggle with the law, only to be saved by Ryan’s purportedly
sympathetic partner, played by Ryan Phillipe. Officer Ryan himself
later saves the wife’s life when he pulls her from an overturned
vehicle about to explode.

In fact, the film is full of turns and twists, so much that it is
important to remember that the time of the film is Christmas–a cold,
snowy Christmas in L.A. Christmas trees and decorations are juxtaposed
with the violence and turmoil, but never give a bizarre or
other-worldly atmosphere to the film. Instead, Christmas represents a
forward movement in the film, an event for characters to anticipate.
Most of the film is explained in a flashback to yesterday’s time, the
time previous to the film’s beginning scene of a shooting
investigation. The possibility of redemption exists when characters
save lives and don’t end them. Could these characters possibly be
learning from their behavior or is it coincidental? The intensity of
the film’s events leaves this to the viewers.

The intricacies of the film are its strengths. The talk is tough and so
are most of the actions. In the end, the effect of it all, added to the
enmeshed stories, creates a viewing experience that may not soon leave
our memories. No one really appears innocent of racial misunderstanding
and missed cues. It is what we want to make of it that might
distinguish appearance from a truth or identify appearances as truth.
While the film is set in Los Angeles, I believe the scenarios could be
played out anywhere in the United States.

— Patricia Rimmer

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