FBMR - Crash
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

CRASH (2004) ***1/2

When a country consists of a great number of people with a great number of different cultures and races, most with their own customs, their own languages, it can unfortunately fuel human frustration, intolerance, and rage. Some may call it racism, and that probably wouldn’t be inaccurate. But more accurately I think it is just prejudice in general … prejudice against race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, or almost any kind of difference that may exist between groups of people, not solely restricted to race.

In this world there are many different kinds of people. Some are genuinely kind, some are outspoken and uncouth, some are downright mean, some let their emotions get the better of them. But often times, in a crisis situation, good people can make mistakes and people whom you thought were mean and bitter end up doing the right thing. The line between good and bad can be blurred, either that or it takes a crisis to act as a wake-up call for people to change their ways, usually for the better. And of course, you have some people who are just always upstanding citizens (but not many of them made it into this film).

“Crash” tackles all of these issues and elements in a series of interconnected stories involving interracial interaction during two days in Los Angeles. White, black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, they all have their potential foibles.

In the opening scene, a car crash has just taken place and, as people often do, those involved in the crash are angry and no one is taking the blame and the finger pointing and racial slurs and comments start spilling out. The next minor car crash occurs at the end of the film with very similar results. However, on a figurative level, almost every interpersonal encounter that occurs has the same intensity and causes the same kind of reaction. There don’t seem to be many pleasant interactions between any of these characters. They simply crash into each other with their words and their misunderstandings, miscommunication, and differences. Now throw the fact that everyone’s on edge because every citizen of America could potentially be carrying a gun and you’ve got a very volatile mix.

This ensemble piece that features the talents of Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton, Ryan Philippe, Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser, Jennifer Esposito, Larenz Tate, and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is very well written and very well acted. Some very interesting comments and arguments regarding stereotypes and how they are often unjust and sometimes furthered by the ones who are the most vocal and angry about them are addressed. And even though they were somewhat truthful, they came out sounding quite offensive, not delivered properly. And that was the point. And it helped in creating tension.

Towards then end of the film, I was on the edge of my seat with suspense, knowing what these characters are like, and fearing for the worst. This isn’t a comedy, after all. And there are some surprising moments, both good and bad. Living in a multicultural city, this is a must see, if only to reinforce what not to do, what not to say, or how not to say it. And in the end, I was very glad that I live in Canada where far, far fewer people have guns and that imminent threat doesn’t loom over whenever someone loses their temper.