By Esosa Omo-Usoh
The promotional poster for Collide poses the question “How far would you go for the one you love?”. For the movie’s protagonist, the answer to that question apparently is very far and to insanely implausible lengths.
Collide starts out with a teeth-clenching and knuckle-tightening car chase sequence on the German autobahn that ends in a horrific crash. This leads us to a chance encounter in a bar between the star-crossed lovers that sets off the sequence of events that led to the chase sequence.
The movie’s protagonist, Casey (played by Nicholas Hoult), is an American drug dealer working a German nightclub selling drugs to patrons on behalf of a Turkish drug dealer, Geran (played by Sir Ben Kingsley). His love interest, Juliette (played by Felicity Jones) tends the bar at the nightclub.
In true movies fashion, their encounter happens with a stare across the room followed by a chat up using a cheesy line that gets called out the instant it is used but which nevertheless works its magic.
However, there is a condition that must be fulfilled before Juliette surrenders to the poison of cupid’s arrow; Casey must give up his drug-dealing ways. This he does immediately and takes up a more honourable job in a scrap metal yard.
But fate is a more mischievous cretin than cupid. So, a play in the snow opens up a new vista in our star-crossed lovers’ lives. As it turns out, Juliette suffers from an ailment that requires a kidney transplant costing $200,000.00 . This is where fate taunts Casey back to the arms of his former life as a drug dealer albeit for romantic/heroic reasons.
He approaches Geran for his old job and is asked to hijack a truck transporting a consignment of cocaine hidden in golf balls. The thing is; the truck’s consignment belongs to a ruthless big time German drug dealer, Hagen Kahl (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) who also happens to be Geran’s business partner who had earlier turned down the latter’s request for equal partnership in the most condescending way imaginable.
Casey successfully pulls off the heist but gets caught by Khal’s goons almost immediately. This sets of the sequence of chase events that dominates the rest of the movie.
As star-crossed lovers, Hoult and Jones pull of that stare-across- the-room chance encounter but as the movie progresses, you get the feeling that their love was not ignited with sufficient intensity to justify Hoult’s life-altering answer to the question the movie’s poster poses “How far would you go for the one you love?”
For Hoult particularly, his intensity and the urgency of his actions as lead protagonist always seemed overshadowed by both big-name villains he had to contend with and the car-chase sequences. The movie did not seem to ride on his shoulders as much as it seemed to ride over him.
When two renowned theatrical actors star in an action movie, chances are their presence in the movie is meant to elevate a drab storyline with some serious acting chops.
In Collide, Hopkins and Kinglsey gave performances that tried (perhaps too hard) to elevate the implausibility-riddled drabness of the movie’s storyline but they almost ended up making caricatures of the characters for which they are both famous.
As Kahl, Hopkins, in his softly-cadenced monologues, seemed to channel his Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Dressed in baby-blue suit in one scene, he almost evoked the panama hat –wearing Lecter in the airport in Bimini end scene in The Silence of the Lambs when he spotted “an old friend”, Dr. Chilton. Hopkins’ tendency to go off on bone-chilling monologues delivered in his patented cadence in most, if not all, of his scenes seemed more contrived than natural to a drug lord like Kahl.
Kinglsey, on the other hand, could barely conceal the fact that his drug-addled Geran was a knockoff of his Mandarin from Iron Man 3. His bordering-on-gay obsession with Burt Reynold’s character’s physique in Deliverance was a quirk too obviously contrived to ramp us the weirdo factor about Geran.
Collide gave some hair-raising car chase sequences on the autobahn and through narrow cobbled town roads but it could not shake off (much the same way, Casey could not seem to shake off Kahl and his goons) from the rear view mirror the fact that its drab storyline was as implausible as its star-crossed lovers’ story was lacking in intensity to justify the extreme sacrifice it supposedly inspired. It is a collision that flaunts an impressive skid mark but does underwhelming damage to your expectation upon impact.