Taylor Stanich Reviews Netflix’s Collateral, Says It’s a Must See

The Netflix original Collateral opens with intriguing cinematography of the mysterious aura of the storyline, scenes and plot flowing nicely together and working impeccably well for this crime drama. The violence is brutal but not gratuitous and there are lots of heart-touching scenes.

One mesmerizing scene shows a pizza delivery man’s shadow on stairs and a wall before he is gunned down and another shows the killer’s gun slowly spiraling down a sharp beam of light, surrounded by a of halo, into a body of water.

Detective Kip Glaspie played by Carrie Mulligan. Picture courtesy of Netflix

The story follows every step of detective Kip Glaspie’s investigation of what appears to be just another random street shooting. Glaspie – female, pregnant and will to stand up to her superiors – is played by Carrie Mulligan, who however, quickly senses an off beat tone of what other detectives and forensic types assume is a simple robbery-homicide.

She eventually locates the family of the murdered man, who is from the Middle East. They are living in a garage, and Glaspie’s intuitive forensic radar senses something is off beat because of that living arrangement.

It’s about then that the story reveals additional themes of a complicated plot that includes drug trafficking, organized crime, espionage and immigration. And more.

Full Cast & Crew Here

Here is another intriguing plot element. David Mars MP,  played by John Simm, who is also the Shadow Minister for Transport, is sucked into this murder investigation because his ex wife, played by Billie Piper, was the last person to speak to the murdered victim and also because he signed papers recommending that an Asian youth, female, be allowed a residency visa even though she sneaked into the country.

The first episode introduces these characters and exposes more than you’d expect of a first episode to a show.

While Collateral may seem to have an odd plot pacing, the story is surprisingly well done. Collateral Director SJ Clarkson, has worked on other successful shows like Life on Mars, East Enders, the sizzling hot Jessica Jones and Marvel’s The Defenders. Cast, crew and the director do a very good job keeping the audience guessing. For example, through the use of shadows on the murder’s face and indirect shots that are out of focus, the audience does not get a real clear shot of the killer and there doesn’t seem to be a path for where this story is taking them – but believe me this story has direction.

The audience eventually gets to see the killer’s face when the director allows for a clear head on shot. Even before this shot, the camera does a beautiful job of maintaining the intrigue while keeping the audience in the dark.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack for this reviewer didn’t contribute much to the narrative. The show immediately opens up with a song that has little to no impact on moving the story forward. It seemed mismatched with the opening scene and, quite frankly, the song made zero sense in terms of what was happening. This continued on throughout the entire first episode. No matter what was shown on screen, the music always seemed unrelated.

Another plot surprise. Two lovers, one who witnessed the murder, and the other a member of the clergy. Say what? Picture courtesy of Netflix.

 

Adam Chitwood, of collider.com, writes that “each episode opens with a popular song blaring, setting the stage for the hour to come while the credits roll.” In contrast, the song in the beginning of the first episode is hardly “popular,” and it really doesn’t set any stage for the impeding murder or upcoming events after that. While the music definitely is “blaring,” it serves no real purpose as far as I’m concerned.

The only arguable contribution the song makes to the story is the reference to “16 shots,” however, the singer’s accent is so thickly British, that most likely only audiences with subtitles turned on for their TV will recognize what’s being sung.

The show is a London-based drama so it operates on the premise that viewers know what London residents know. If you don’t live in the area, or if you’ve never visited, chances are that you’ll have no real idea what they are talking about. The characters also use lingo and abbreviations that only Londoners will pick up – words like “rota,” “mo,” and “K-hole.” Some American viewers may get distracted trying to understand the conversation. Such moments might be a disconnect for some in the audience.

What starts as a complex construction of character storylines that don’t seem connected evolves beautifully into a tidy, alluring crime drama. You need to watch this series ASAP. It’s a highly addictive, and it definitely deserves attention and praise.

 

Taylor Stanich can be reached at Taylor.Stanich03@myhunter.cuny.edu