When you think of a sharp-suited hitman mercilessly-yet-stylishly gunning down their foes in a neon-lit nightclub, played by an actor famed for headlining a succession of fantastic action moves dating back decades, then you’re almost certainly thinking about Keanu Reeves in the John Wick franchise.
Michael Mann knows that, too, but he won’t stand for it. The filmmaker helmed 2004’s phenomenal street-level crime thriller Collateral, which saw Cruise give one of his best-ever performances in an incredibly rare villainous role. During an interview with Deadline reflecting on the star’s career, John Wick was brought up, but Mann shut down those comparisons in no time at all.
“John Wick’s are not real techniques. What Tom did, those are real techniques and there was a lot of training with my friend Mick Gould, who was the head of close-quarter combat training for the British SAS. The scene in the alley, there’s no cut in that scene… It came down to doing the work.
There was nothing he was doing that wasn’t established close-quarter combat moves that came from months of training. That included blending in. There was a lot of psychological training he did. Tom is a dream. He sees the adventure in what we do, just the way I do, and I imagine other directors do. He just goes for it.”
Collateral remains one of Cruise’s finest efforts, and while it’s entirely up to you which one of the middle-aged assassins you prefer, a crossover would be the stuff of dreams.