When it’s not blatantly pilfering ideas from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive or providing absurd dialogue for the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley, Collide is a fairly generic thriller that mostly requires its lead, Nicholas Hoult, to look frazzled as he finds himself involved in numerous car pile-ups on the Autobahn or being shot at or beaten by German thugs.
In the film, Hoult’s Casey Stein is an American who is spending some time in Germany for nebulous reasons that have something to do with his stealing cars. There, he meets a young woman named Juliette (Felicity Jones) – whose name is such so that Shakespeare can be quoted at one point and is also abroad under vague circumstances – and the two of them fall in love.
Casey departs his life of crime but, as Al Pacino, once put it, they keep pulling him back in – they, in this case, being a big businessman known as Hagen Kahl (Hopkins) and a Turkish criminal named Geran (Kingsley) who are sort of at war. Geran wants Casey and a pal of his to steal a shipment of cocaine that is being transported by Kahl after the two fail to come to a business agreement.
Much of Collide is a series of car chases in which Casey somehow remarkably walks away with only a few scratches after smashing the various vehicles he steals on the Autobahn. He is pursued by Kahl’s bearded right-hand-henchman and numerous men with automatic weapons. Since this film’s aim appears to take the most obvious paths, Juliette is, naturally, snatched by Kahl and held ransom until Casey returns the drugs he stole.
Hopkins and Kingsley appear to be having the most fun here as both of the great actors are allowed to ham it up. Hopkins delivers soliloquies that feel entirely inappropriate to a silly action film of this sort, while Kingsley walks around barely robed, surrounded by skimpily clad women, taking drugs, dancing awkwardly to European house music and, in the film’s most inspired and bizarre sequence, watching and praising the 1985 aerobics film Plenty starring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis.
As the film winds down, it really begins to wear its influences on its sleeve. When Casey and Juliette walk in slow motion down a hall corridor, they are accompanied by an electronic score that sounds not so subtly like College’s “A Real Hero,” which you might recognize from Drive, a film from which Collide often pilfers. The picture is an amalgamation of scenes and characters that were better handled in the superior films from which this one frequently borrows.