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April 2005

By Wilson Morales


Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Director: Paul Haggis
Producers: Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle, Paul Haggis, and Bob Yari
Screenwriter: Paul Haggis
Director of Photography: Michael Muro
Composer: Mark Isham
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Terrence Dashon Howard, Larenz Tate, Thandie Newton, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Ryan Philippe, Nona Gaye, Micahel Pena, Brendan Fraser, Jennifer Esposito, & William Fichtner



If there was a film that had substance and emotion and really gets to your heart, it's "Crash". At this point of the year, when another film from the Star Wars franchise is about to come out and basically rule the box office, Crash is the one film that , at the end of the summer, folks will still be talking about. Paul Haggis, who wrote the Oscar winning film, Million Dollar Baby, wrote and makes his directorial debut here and he has another hit on his hands. In the past, there have been plenty of ensemble films like Magnolia, Short Cuts, and Grand Canyon, where the all of the characters eventually connect with each other after going through separate stories, but "Crash" offers a lot more in terms of realism and shock value. Although some the stories in the film seem contrived, the actors portraying the roles are not only convincing but perhaps give their best performance to date.

At the start of the film, Detectives Graham (Cheadle) and Ria (Esposito) are just getting to the scene of a car crash when he also stumbles upon the scene of a murder and they film shifts back a day to show us the chain of events that led to the opening scene. In one scene, there are two African Americans (Tate, Bridges) who discussed about being racially profiled in a restaurant by a black waitress before going to car jacked a white couple. The white couple (Fraser, Bullock) turned out to be the District Attorney and his wife, who vents her frustration on him for being foreseeing the situation and not doing anything and indirectly insults the Latino locksmith (Pena) who is fixing her doorbell. She says that he will eventually "give the keys to his homies" and come back and inflict more harm to them. The locksmith goes home to his daughter, who still hears bullets in her head even though they moved out from that sort of environment. In another set of stories, we have a racist cop (Dillon) who takes advantage of a situation when he stops an African American TV director (Howard) and his wife and then goes home to deal with his sick father. Meanwhile, his partner (Philippe) has misgivings about working with him and asks to be given another partner before dealing with a situation that has dire consequences.

There haven't been that many films that have tackled the race issue to the extent that "Crash" does. Not race is left safe and at the same time, most of the characters are racist depending on the circumstances. As contrived as some of the stories are, there's a certain of level of realism that brings our hearts to a stop. The shock value of some scenes is enough to get us to think as to what's more important in life and be careful how we treat others. Every single actor brings in their "A" game to this film. For Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, this is the film that clearly established him as an actor. It's nice to see Sandra Bullock do something dramatic for change, especially after a dismal performance in "Mis Congeniality 2". Don Cheadle continues to impress us with each of his roles, and this role is no different. He is clearly breaking out as a lead actor these days. Haggis has written characters that are not one-dimensional and it shows within Matt Dillon and Ryan Phillippe's roles. At the end of the day, Crash will be the talk of the summer.