Directed by Michael Mann, starring Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Irma P Hall and Barry Shabaka Henley.

There's something very slick about 'Collateral' that sets it apart from other thrillers. Engaging and likeable, the mismatched pair that are its focus command both respect and unfaltering attention, with the film's stylish shooting making it very easy on the eye.

Tom Cruise is Vincent, a sophisticated, contract killer on a mission to rid LA of its key witnesses in a drug cartel case. Jamie Foxx is Max, the unfortunate taxi driver who takes Vincent into his cab and becomes an unlikely accomplice to the spate of killings that ensue. And Jada Pinkett Smith plays the beautiful prosecutor Annie who may be the final target in Vincent's plan, but also the apple of Max's eye.

There's nothing that deviates much from the tried and tested urban action thriller formula here - the stair chase, the subway escape and the body in the trunk. But somehow Mann manages to expel the staleness that such set pieces often attract, offering some surprisingly fresh and hilarious scenes. 'Collateral' is big on personality and humour, which distract easily from any minor flaws that might have slipped into its production. The overhead chopper shots of LA, while done before, are visually impressive as interwoven cutaways, complimented by a perfect soundtrack.

Cruise is more than convincing as the mild-mannered yet psychotic Vincent, ageing believably with his grey locks and designer stubble, and allowing us right inside his fascinating, multi-layered character. His portrayal of the cold, yet cultured, hitman is nailed to percision. Jamie Foxx nearly, but not quite, upstages him as the hapless cabbie who naively sees the best in everyone, playing trusting Max wonderfully in the pair's exploits across the city.

The story, while not entirely unpredictable, has a script that is both witty and engaging. As well as pulling in top performances from its leads, 'Collateral' boasts a solid support cast and sharp production. Definitely one to see.

Linda McGee