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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Sandra Bullock
Don Cheadle
Matt Dillon
Thandie Newton
Brendan Fraser
William Fichtner
Jennifer Esposito
Ryan Phillippe
Tony Danza
Keith David.
Directors
Paul Haggis.
Screenwriters
Paul Haggis
Bobby Moresco.
Running Time
112 minutes

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Crash
Powerful directorial debut from Oscar winning screenwriter Paul Haggis.


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Plot
Set over the course of two nights and one day, this multi-stranded ensemble drama dissects the turbulent state of race relations in LA. The Latino locksmith, the redneck beat cop, the Iranian-American shopkeeper, the WASP DA’s wife… all these disparate lives career into each other with unexpected results.


Review
Crash
In the prologue to Paul Haggis’ ambitious directorial debut, Los Angeles police detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle), dazed after a traffic accident, muses distractedly over whether the denizens of LA subconsciously engineer the odd fender-bender as a means of making contact with their fellow citizens. It’s a fleeting, almost dream-like moment, one of many that Haggis (screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby) juxtaposes with gritty realism and high drama, to paint a highly personal portrait of this unique city.

The metropolis itself doesn’t interest Haggis so much as the labyrinthine matrix of race relations it fosters. Crash opens proper with two African-American youths strolling late at night through a smart shopping mall, one of them (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) pontificating on the suspicious glances and instinctive wariness their presence elicits from the rich white folks. It’s a familiar spiel and your heart sinks at the prospect of a wordy, didactic seminar from a director out to prove he’s down with the brothers. A moment later, however, the rug is pulled smartly out from under us. The character is wordy and didactic, yes, but not the film. He is also — as he proves when he and his partner carjack a young District Attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his wife (Sandra Bullock) — everything he despises white people for suspecting he is.

It's a feature of the brilliant screenplay that first impressions are constantly knocked sideways. When the taint of tokenism threatens to creep in, it’s invariably dispelled by a deeper insight or a veer into tragedy, occasionally even farce, that lays naive preconceptions mercilessly bare. The robbery sets in train a narrative of escalating complexity through which Haggis attempts to put a human face on LA’s multicultural plight via a cast of characters drawn from every facet of the city’s diverse ethnic spectrum, whose lives intersect at various incendiary junctures over an intense 36-hour period.

It’s the human drama, laced so poetically into its cultural context, that makes Crash such riveting viewing. And when, as happens on occasion, Haggis stretches credibility to breaking point or ladles on the pathos, he is saved by his universally outstanding cast. It’s unfair to single anyone out, but Matt Dillon is superb as the ostensibly standard-issue LAPD redneck, as are Terrence Dashon Howard as a self-satisfied TV producer facing a life-changing identity crisis, and Bullock as a scared rich bitch retreating into loneliness and paranoia behind the walls of her Beverly Hills mansion.

Of course, Los Angeles serves as more than a mere backdrop. Crucial to Haggis’ depiction of life in the City Of Angels are its sprawling infrastructure; its near-total reliance on hermetically sealed automobiles; its ghettoising freeway system that carves unbridgeable psychological gulfs between rich neighbourhoods and poor; its desolate sidewalks, deserted subway stations
and monolithic parking lots, all of which contribute to a pall of mistrust that hangs as heavy in the air as smog.

If the message in this electrifying film is not overtly one of optimism, it is at least one of hope. There’s no plea for peace, love and understanding here — Haggis is too honest for that. Still, Crash depicts not so much a population failing to live in harmony, but one somehow just about succeeding — in spite of a grimly stacked deck, as well as its own myopia, stupidity and knee-jerk intolerance.


Verdict
A haunting, perceptive and uncompromising examination of controversial subject matter, expertly written and directed by Paul Haggis and characterised by excellent performances from its starry cast.


Reviewed by Simon Braund


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Average user rating for Crash
Empire Star Rating

Crash Review

A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos. An excellent film, but did it deserve to win Best Picture, I think not. It deserved all of it's other wins and nominations though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 12:51, 18 March 2012 | Report This Post


Wonderful, it may not have subtlety when approaching its often upsetting and controversial subject matter, but it is an intelligent and well crafted film, that is built on by brilliant preformances and an extremely smart script. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by willchadwick at 13:43, 30 November 2008 | Report This Post


I thought this made good use of what acting talent it had, and used a good balance of storylines, although it carrys a rather tense feel throughout which leaves little time to relax and enjoy it. However i thought overall it was an amazing watch. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Perrettyboy at 19:14, 22 March 2008 | Report This Post


Racism for dummies

This was such a let down, purely because I expected a masterpiece (Empire 4 stars and Academy award). It lacked any sort of subtlety in the storytelling to the point where a lot of it was almost unrealistic. If they'd approached the racial prejudices with a bit more subtlety, the ending of each story arc would've felt so much more important...instead we have Ryan Phillippe's character, who's behaviour throughout the film is just not explained whatsoever... SPOILER ...if his racial prejud... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Stalla at 00:55, 10 March 2008 | Report This Post


Just take the best from Magnolia.

Absolutely stunning movie. Great performances and fantastic script... Just take the best from Magnolia. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mybigmouse at 11:57, 17 December 2007 | Report This Post


Absoultely fantastic! very clever and poignant script that really touched me. Matt Dillon wins my vote for most outstanding character. Great well done to Paul Haggis. Highly recommended and was my best film of the year. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mozzy_gal at 19:52, 27 November 2007 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Me100 at 17:19, 30 May 2007 | Report This Post


Provocative, moving and powerful, this multi-stranded LA story is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year. ... More

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Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:13, 06 April 2007 | Report This Post


One of the very best films of the last decade, Crash is an endlessly powerful, utterly gripping snapshot of LA's cold, solitary inhabitants. This is by turns haunting, funny and uplifting. Fully deserving of its big prize on Oscar night, Crash's themes are big and less than subtle but they lack no little emotional punch and the quality of direction, writing and acting will leave you drained but completely absorbed. Truly wonderful stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Eomer_King at 20:02, 29 March 2007 | Report This Post


Well intentioned but too contrived

Gripping and thought provokeing but some how trying too hard to be uncliched and unrealistic in that evry character is obsessed with the issue when maybe a sadder fact is the fact that the vast majority of people dont think about it enough. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spydaman at 20:50, 01 March 2007 | Report This Post


Crash-my GCSE coursework

Prejudice is a foggy window which, at some point in our lives, we all look through and it is a common subject in modern day cinema. Whether it is racial, gender, homophobic or any other form of discrimination, using prejudice in films has grown in popularity amongst directors and film writers. While well known productions such as The Green Mile, A Time to Kill, and Mississippi Burning all controversially display themes of racism; many films such as Pretty Woman, Philadelphia and even Shrek 2 por... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amieg at 22:42, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


Crash-my GCSE coursework

Prejudice is a foggy window which, at some point in our lives, we all look through and it is a common subject in modern day cinema. Whether it is racial, gender, homophobic or any other form of discrimination, using prejudice in films has grown in popularity amongst directors and film writers. While well known productions such as The Green Mile, A Time to Kill, and Mississippi Burning all controversially display themes of racism; many films such as Pretty Woman, Philadelphia and even Shrek 2 por... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amieg at 22:42, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


Crash

Well written, brilliantly directed. One of the best directed films of the last few years. Stand out performances from Newton and Cheadle in particular. Two gripes, the ending was a complete cop out and Brendan Fraser was shocking. Otherwise highly recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by qualidad at 16:42, 27 September 2006 | Report This Post


Excellent

Wonderfully written and performed and never goes where you think it will. ... More

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Posted by Caster at 02:46, 09 September 2006 | Report This Post


... More

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Posted by BlueDragon21120 at 22:08, 07 September 2006 | Report This Post


Crash.

I cannot think of a better film than this masterpeice of cinema that deals so effectively with racism. It is brilliant on so many levels. Not only is the acting excellent but the script is extremely clever. None of the main characters are how they first appear emphasising the point that you shouldn`t judge or treat people badly on appearence and racial group alone. Not all young black men are of course car jackers nor our all white Americans racist. When characters in this film do express r... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cruisecontroller at 16:59, 01 September 2006 | Report This Post


Glad it Beat Brokeback

As someone very interested in civil rights history, this film was particularly interesting. Well shot, well acted and well direscted. One of the most challenging films of the year. However, I would have preferred it if there was less swearing, which was so frequent it added nothing to the film. Deservedly beat Brokeback mountain. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by swordsandsandals at 13:33, 29 August 2006 | Report This Post


Why all the fuss?

This film is rubbish...well not rubbish, but certainly nothing better than a decent ER epsiode. Why oh why all the fuss? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 21:40, 28 August 2006 | Report This Post


Crash

Great film. Just wondered, anyone else having trouble clicking on the link to DVD extras on this site? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 12:46, 28 August 2006 | Report This Post


Crash

Great film. Just wondered, anyone else having trouble clicking on the link to DVD extras on this site? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 12:45, 28 August 2006 | Report This Post


this films superb and it can' be knocked. Its award for best picture was well deserved ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rawkins at 11:37, 27 August 2006 | Report This Post


Crash: Director's Cut

This is a great film and I was pleasantly surprised when it won the Best Picture Oscar, but please could Empire explain the difference between the theatrical cut and the director's cut in this alleged review of the director's cut? I don't see a difference between this review and the one that was printed on the theatrical release. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jncorbett at 14:29, 25 August 2006 | Report This Post


I love this film definetly deserves an Oscar the whole way the film was written was superb as was the acting. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sugar Kowalczyk at 12:30, 02 June 2006 | Report This Post


A very good film, but worthy of a Best Picture Oscar? Not at all. Actors, script and direction are great, but again, certainly not deservant of an Oscar. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Q.T at 13:35, 31 May 2006 | Report This Post


A very good film, but worthy of a Best Picture Oscar? Not at all. Actors, script and direction are great, but again, certainly not deservant of an Oscar. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Q.T at 13:35, 31 May 2006 | Report This Post


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