Crash (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Writer-Director Paul Haggis, who wrote the script of a movie I deplored last year, “Million Dollar Baby,” has returned as an auteur with “Crash.”

This is an ensemble cast of Matt Dillon (Officer Ryan), Don Cheadle (Graham), Brendan Fraser (Rick), Ryan Philippe (Officer Hanson), the profane rapper Ludacris (Anthony), and a bunch of other less recognizable names, although if you don’t blink too much you’ll also see Sandra Bullock (Jean, wife of Rick) and Tony Danza (Fred).

Most of the movie is a flashback from an accident scene that starts the film. The people who are very unlikable at the beginning turn out to be not so unlikable and vice-versa. The film is a bunch of episodic tales, that seem unrelated but that get tied together at the end. Nobody is very admirable because Haggis to trying to capture human nature as it is, not as we would like it to be or as Hollywood often portrays it. So people are selfish but are not punished much for their selfishness. People who seem unselfish seem to get punished in the end, regardless of their good acts.

It captures a real life scenario of how people living unremarkable lives react when something negative forces pressure on their lives and their relationships, and the results are not pretty. There are some good people here, but they generally aren’t as good as they seem. There are some bad people, too, but they generally aren’t as bad as they seem. I guess that the moral is that there’s some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us.

Although a drama with a serious theme there are some very funny lines, many with a racial basis and some of the best by Ludacris, that lighten the load. The acting, especially by Matt Dillon, is exceptional. This is an entertaining, thought provoking movie with outstanding writing, directing, cinematography, and acting.

May 7, 2005