Crash movie review, Paul Haggis, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Phillippe, Thandie Newton. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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A scene from 'Crash'
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3 stars
100 minutes | Rated: R
WIDE: Friday, May 6, 2005
Directed by Paul Haggis

Starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Dashon Howard, Ryan Phillippe, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Larenz Tate, Nona Gaye, Tony Danza, Keith David, Michael Pena


This movie's emotional intensity should translate just fine to the small screen.

  • Sandra Bullock
  • Don Cheadle
  • Matt Dillon
  • Jennifer Esposito
  • William Fichtner
  • Brendan Fraser
  • Terrence Dashon Howard
  • Ryan Phillippe
  • Thandie Newton
  • Larenz Tate
  • Nona Gaye
  • Keith David

    Don Cheadle (1998)

     LINKS for this film
    Official siteShowtimes
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Interconnected plots lay bare social, psychological issues often swept under the rug of the American consciousness

    By Rob Blackwelder

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

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

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

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

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

    The emotional complexity and intricate, intimate narrative of these stories defy simple summary, but suffice it to say writer and first-time director Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby") lays bare many social and psychological issues that generally get swept under the rug of the American consciousness. The film doesn't just conjure up racially charged confrontations, but also shows almost subliminally how passive prejudice and pre-conceived notions 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 has been overshadowed by her frivolous comedies) -- help personify these characters as emblematic and familiar while being anything but archetypal. Cinematographer James Muro also contributes significantly to the film's visceral nature with well-chosen, emotion-heightening moments of hand-held and point-of-view camerawork.

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

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