Director Michael Mann is known for modifying moods through music, particularly in urban settings. There were all those rain-slicked tracking shots in Miami Vice, for example, accompanied by Phil Collins and Dire Straits. For 1995's Heat it was Moby, Lisa Gerrard, and Kronos Quartet, all contributing pieces that heightened the film's dense, psychological air. And for Mann's return to the crime caper genre in 2004's Collateral, it's a stellar mixed bag of gripping, tense instrumentals and evocative, sonically varied artist contributions. Producer Tom Rothrock gets things rolling in a Mann-ish direction with "Briefcase" -- the track throbs like a power cable buried under a city street. Score excerpts from James Newton Howard and City of God composer Antonio Pinto are equally powerful, offering a mix of knives glinting in shadows (Pinto's "Car Crash") and serviceable chase scene dynamics (the Howard piece "Vincent Hops Train"). Latin-flavored selections by Calexico and Green Car Motel hint at the film's traverse through L.A.'s ethnic patchwork, there's a lovely excerpt from Miles Davis' Bitches Brew classic "Spanish Key," and the Roots with Cody ChesnuTT offer some streetwise, vibey soul with "The Seed (2.0)." The only misstep here is a noneventful remix of Oakenfold's "Ready Steady Go." Its substance-less big beat thump feels like 21st century soundtrack filler; in fact, it fits better with Oakenfold's work on Swordfish. Sequence out "Ready Steady," and Collateral is comparable to Mann's greatest meetings of music and film.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus