Racism. Prejudice. Stereotyping. These are the messages in Crash. It isn't subtle, it isn't a hidden message. It isn't even the moral of the story. It's just what it's about. The film starts with a car crash between two minorities who begin right away with the ethnic slurs and name-calling. From there, every character in the movie has an obvious affliction against one or all other ethnic cultures they interact with: black vs. white, black vs. Asian, Asian vs. Latino, etc. The movie is an ensenble that revolves around about 10 main characters, each with a different story-line, whose lives all come together directly or indirectly throughout the course of the story; mostly in an unfortunate and disconcerting course of events.
The film has many very intense situations in which you'll find yourself gripping the edge of the theater arm rests. Each situation has its own unique conclusion. Sometimes it will work out, sometimes everything goes wrong. Just when you think it all worked out in a given situation and you take a deep breath of relief, you realize it's not quite over yet and anything can still happen. I loved this. I never knew what was going to happen next. I just knew it probably wasn't going to turn out well. But then it does. And then it doesn't.
The film boasts a magnificent cast. Don Cheadle is one of the best in the business right now. Actors that you may not expect to shine, really do. Ala Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton and Sandra Bullock. Although Bullock has got minimal screen time, this is arguably the best performance of her career.
The only thing I didn't like was the over the top ridiculousness of the situations. I'm probably nit picking, because this is precisely what I also liked about the movie too. Director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby) tries to make us believe that this is just how life is; at least in L.A. And it just isn't. Everyone in the city is racist and on the brink of snapping. If life were really like this, it would be near chaos and barely tolerable.
Lastly, Haggis' message is obvious: attempt to minimalize your racial prejudice. But the funny thing is, some of the characters in "Crash" who feel they are unfairly racially prejudged, actually earned that prejudicial treatment (i.e. blacks jacking cars, dirty white cops, etc.) In the film however, some of the characters realize their sour ways and attempt to change. Probably the best and most powerful scene in the film (and probably the most intense I'm likely to see for months) is when Dillon and Thandie Newton's character must attempt to overcome their mistrust of each other in a moment of impending doom.
I highly recommend this movie to all. Rent it today. It is not the greatest film ever and may or may not (sorry Maddoxx) garner Oscar nods (***UPDATE - this film did win best picture at the 2005 Oscars!), but it is intense as hell and sends a definite message via an arrow to your heart. I will definitely see this film again in the near future. The paths of all the characters cross many times throughout the film and it will be fun to see it again and know when and why. Another rare rating for a film: 4.5 out of 5.