Crash (2004) starring Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Terrence Dashon Howard, Ludacris directed by Paul Haggis Movie Review

Crash (2004)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer in Crash

Crash is a L.A. Smash

I like movies which take us on a journey through various storylines which somehow interlink, sometimes directly sometimes indirectly; they tend to challenge you to think about things differently as was the case in "11:14". But "Crash" is in a completely different league with several storylines which manage to interweave and take us full circle in an ever changing story. But more importantly "Crash" is not so much a movie about what happens but the underlying emotions, those of racial tensions between various people. Yet this isn't a movie which is preaching about right or wrong rather exploring elements of fear, prejudice and much more in a surprisingly riveting way.

On face value "Crash" looks like it's just going to be another ensemble piece with interweaving stories. We have a story about car-jackers who end up robbing the young District Attorney and his wife of their vehicle. This leads to the D.A. trying to smooth things over by fixing a promotion and covering up a murder whilst his wife panics over her safety. Leading on from this there is the lock smith who changes her locks who then has a run in with a Persian shop owner who is at the end of his tether. And so it goes on with a policeman of 17 years who abuses his power to fondle a woman in a routine traffic stop much to the annoyance of his young and in experienced partner. I am sure I have missed something because there is so much going on.

Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot in Crash

Now as you would expect these stories end up interweaving and overlapping in a six degrees of separation way. Some of these links are impressive and surprising, yet some are more incidental almost a passing in the street. But it works and you get sucked into how all these stories, how all these people in the space of 2 days manage to link in one way or another.

But here is the thing "Crash" isn't really about what happens to these people, it doesn't really have a proper storyline with a set start and finish, although everything seems to link back to Det. Graham Waters who is investigating a possible gangland murder. Instead this is a movie about the feelings of the characters in a hotbed of racial tension. It embraces elements of fear and prejudice, anger and ignorance as each of these characters and separate storylines has an underlying tension and racism. But it never tries to preach to you about what is right or wrong or make excuses for why someone may suddenly express a racial streak which comes to the fore when they are scared. In fact this in many ways is an exploration of various acts of racism some appearing more obvious than others.

With it being an ensemble piece there is an impressive amount of talent on show from Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock through to Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton. And there is not a single bad performance be it Matt Damon as the veteran cop who abuses his power through to Ludacris who as one of the car-jackers is full of anger against pretty much everyone. But it is Don Cheadle who ends up being the most impressive because it is his character who not only seems to crop up the most but has the more touching storyline.

What this all boils down to is that "Crash" is a pretty spectacular movie and one of the best ensemble pieces where you have interweaving stories. As you would expect the way you are drawn into the interlocking stories is brilliant but its greatness comes from not so much being about these stories but the emotions of the characters as underlying racial tendencies manifests themselves, yet never once feeling like it is trying to preach to you about racism.