What a perfect matchup. Both slick action thrillers about an ordinary man forced into an extraordinary situation. Michael Mann is the brilliant director at the helm of Collateral and, while it is not as widely renowned as Heat, it could be argued that this is his most personal movie. When you strip away the extraneous plot elements, it ultimately boils down to two guys who couldn’t be more different forced to spend a night together. Both Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise go above and beyond what you expect from them, so much so that I feel like Foxx deserved his Oscar for this film rather than Ray. Then there’s Die Hard. You know it. I know it. It’s a classic, and for good reason. What’s interesting about the Die Hard franchise and fan base is that it seems like everybody sort of forgot why the original worked so well. As the series progressed, John McClane evolved into this unstoppable Superman of sorts. However, the charm of Die Hard is the “Oh, FUCK, what am I doing?” attitude that Bruce Willis has through the whole film. Whether he’s blowing up a building or gunning down terrorists, he’s just rolling with it. He’s not Batman, he’s not Jason Statham, he’s just a cop in a fucked up situation. Plus, dear God, Alan Rickman. I think the difference between these films ultimately comes down to the way they approach their violence. In Collateral, it’s quick and ugly, and it hurts. Die Hard, on the other hand, revels in it. Essentially, Collateral is probably the better movie, but Die Hard is much, much more fun and rewatchable.
Winner: Die Hard
On the surface, these flicks couldn’t be more different. However, there is a definite through line between both, aside from the fact that they’re two of the most underrated films of the past decade. Both Big Fish and Hellboy are, at their core, stories about making peace with where you came from. Asking questions about your past, and sometimes the answers aren’t what you’d like to hear. Deciding whether you’ll continue your legacy or break it, start anew. They both do so with an extensive mythology, a skewed visual style, and an air of deception. Big Fish blurs the line between story-telling and flat out lying. Hellboy shows the worst-case scenario of an adopted child meeting their real parents. While Big Fish is arguably the best film Tim Burton’s ever put his name on, I have to hand this one to Hellboy. It is, bizarrely, left off of most “Best Superhero Films” lists, which is criminal. Ron Perlman sells the character of Hellboy so well, despite being BURIED in prosthetics and makeup. John Hurt and Selma Blair also lend an air of humanity to a story about monsters, and for that, Hellboy takes the battle.
– Keith Carey