CAIRO: The issue of prejudice is not unfamiliar on the silver screen. There have been many films tackling the issue in various ways. Only the unique and well thought-out have claimed box-office success. Crash falls into that category.
Arguably one of the best movies of the year, Crash offers a well thought-out script with an interlocking storyline (think Magnolia or Love Actually), and takes a close and painful look at prejudice as it exposes social and psychological issues pertaining to humanity.
Co-writer and co-producer of Crash Paul Haggis, originally a television writer-producer (remember Walker Texas Ranger?) had no trouble in making the transition from TV to films. After the Oscar success of Million Dollar Baby, his first movie script, Haggis was able to meet the expectations placed upon him and create yet another success.
The strength of the film emanates from the characters, and the actors who so vividly portray them. Although each story differs slightly from the others, it slowly becomes apparent that each individual in the film has innate racist feelings. The stories and characters merge together naturally at different points in the film, with cars becoming the common variable between them.
Take, for example, the sophisticated, albeit arrogant, district attorney (played by Brendan Fraser) and his clamorous wife (played by Sandra Bullock, who incidentally brought much more to the role than many thought her capable of. Their fears of African American men are unveiled as they are carjacked at gunpoint in their SUV.
Larenz Tate and rapper Ludacris play the role of the two criminals, who end up ramming into a Korean man as they speed off in the SUV.
Matt Dillon plays a police officer who humiliates a young, successful African American man (played by the often overlooked, yet undeniably talented Terrence Howard) and sexually harasses his wife (played by Thandie Newton). They are pulled over, in what is perhaps the most powerful scene of the film, due to the likeness of their SUV to the stolen one.
Other characters include a young Hispanic man (played by Michael Pena) and a struggling Iranian shopkeeper (played by Shaun Toub). Don Cheadle and Jennifer Esposito play a pair of internal affairs detectives, while Ryan Phillippe exhibits his acting skills as a rooky cop with a conscience accompanying Dillon’s character.
The film is able to vividly convey just how many snap-judgments are made by people throughout the world based on nothing more than skin-color or socio-economic status, and how such judgments are fully capable of ruining another person’s life.
For all of the social implications implied in the film, it nonetheless remembers a key ingredient of a successful movie. Entertainment. Crash manages to make its point without boring the viewer which is a rare and admirable feat in today’s movie industry.