Crash Review

A meditation on the often unacknowledged undercurrentsof racism in everyday American city life, "Crash" has the kindof broad appeal that can draw large audiences and the kind of lingeringemotional potency that can lead to serious soul-searching.

An impressive ensemble cast lends strong character to acultural cross-section of Los Angeles denizens who are connected to eachother through crime, corruption, obligation, indignation and chance overa two-day period. The most powerful storyline features Matt Dillon andRyan Phillippe as beat cops -- one jaded and abusive, the other fresh andidealistic -- who pull over and harass (much to Phillippe's dismay) a blackyuppie couple (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton) because the SUV they'redriving vaguely fits the description of a carjacked vehicle.

Within 24 hours, these characters all cross paths againin separate incidents of incredibly high tension that challenge both theprejudices that have formed between them and the conclusions we've beenled to as an audience.

Although they do not meet again, similarly potent table-turningand judgment-testing events occur in the lives of the actual carjackers(Larenz Tate and rapper Ludacris, whose character is ironically obsessedwith being stereotyped) and their victims, an ambitious district attorneyand his uptight wife (played with depth and conviction by Brendan Fraserand Sandra Bullock).

These four are, in turn, connected through other eventsto a young Hispanic locksmith (Michael Pena) desperately trying to makea better life for his 5-year-old daughter after moving out of a crime-riddenneighborhood, and to a struggling Iranian shopkeeper (Shaun Toub) desperatelyseeking to lay blame for the vandalization of his convenience store, andto a pair of internal affairs detectives (Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito),whose lives and jobs are complicated by politics, tested principles andpersonal secrets.

The emotional complexity and intricate, intimate narrativeof these stories defy simple summary, but suffice it to say writer andfirst-time director Paul Haggis ("MillionDollar Baby") lays bare many social andpsychological issues that generally get swept under the rug of the Americanconsciousness. The film doesn't just conjure up racially charged confrontations,but also shows almost subliminally how passive prejudice and pre-conceivednotions are often prevalent in simple day-to-day life.

The multifaceted, uniformly compelling performances --most notably from Howard, Newton and Bullock (whose gift for drama hasbeen overshadowed by her frivolous comedies) -- help personify these charactersas emblematic and familiar while being anything but archetypal. CinematographerJames Muro also contributes significantly to the film's visceral naturewith well-chosen, emotion-heightening moments of hand-held and point-of-viewcamerawork.

"Crash" is not a film that will change the worldor be permanently emblazoned on your mind. But it does get at the simpletruths of racial discord in society in a way that is absorbing, intelligent,thought-provoking, and yet entirely accessible.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th May 2005

Box Office USA: $55.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $98.4M

Budget: $6.5M

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Production compaines: Bull's Eye Entertainment, Bob Yari Productions, DEJ Productions, Blackfriars Bridge Films, Harris Company, ApolloProScreen Filmproduktion

Reviews 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 150 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Jean Cabot, as Det. Graham Waters, as Officer John Ryan, as Daniel, as Ria, as Rick Cabot, as Karen, as Cameron Thayer, as Anthony, as Christine Thayer, Ashlyn Sanchez as Lara, as Shereen, as Peter Waters, as Graham's Mother, as Officer Johnson, as Lt. Dixon, as Flanagan, as Park, as Officer Tom Hansen, Karina Arroyave as Elizabeth, Dato Bakhtadze as Lucien, Art Chudabala as Ken Ho, Sean Cory as Motorcycle Cop, as Fred, as Shaniqua Johnson, Ime Etuk as Georgie, as Officer Gomez, as Flanagan, Howard Fong as Store Owner, Billy Gallo as Officer Hill, Ken Garito as Bruce, Octavio Gómez Berríos as Hispanic Passenger, James Haggis as Lara's Friend, Sylva Kelegian as Nurse Hodges, Sylva Kelegian as Pop Ryan, Jayden Lund as Security Guard, as Gun Store Owner, as First Assistant Director, Martin Norseman as Conklin, Joe Ordaz as Hispanic Driver, Greg Joung Paik as Choi, Yomi Perry as Maria, Alexis Rhee as Kim Lee, Molly Schaffer as Woman at Locksmith's, Paul E. Short as Officer Stone, Bahar Soomekh as Dorri, as Paramedic, Kate Super as Receptionist, Glenn Taranto as Country DJ (voice), as Farhad, Curt Clendenin as Carjack Witness (uncredited), Alastair Douglas as Young Peter (uncredited), Nicholas George Stark as Jamal (uncredited)