After penning a phenomenal three-pronged character study in Million Dollar Baby, Paul Haggis has now both written and directed an astounding ensemble feature in Crash. By colliding racial prejudices, articulate dialogue, and ingratiating irony, Haggis has signed, sealed, and delivered a complete package of a movie. It is disheartening, unflinching, and at times even thwarting, but at no point does Crash falter and lose its effectiveness. While Crash may be bounded by an overused formula (where the characters interweave and the story wraps upon itself), the script is still dynamic and sole.
At the film’s opening we are introduced to a homicide detective named Graham (Don Cheadle) and his partner - both on the force and in bed - named Ria (Jennifer Esposito); both were just involved in a car crash atop the hills of Los Angeles (quite reminiscent of Mulholland Drive). At this very same crash site, the body of a kid has been found.
Rewind one day. Well-to-do District Attorney Rick (Brendan Fraser) and his snobbish housewife Jean (Sandra Bullock) are car-jacked by two African-American thieves named Anthony (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) and Peter (Larenz Tate). While the DA’s primary concern is losing the black vote, his wife’s racial insecurities surface. She becomes so distressed with the car-jacking that she lashes out at her husband to have their locks changed again; she is convinced that the Latino locksmith that they hired, named Daniel (Michael Pena), is going to copy their new keys and sell them to his “homies.” However, the locksmith really isn’t a “gang banger,” but rather a respectable, safety-conscious family man who lovingly supports his wife and daughter. Later, it is Daniel’s run-in with a Persian shop owner named Farhad (Shaun Toub) that results in the spiraling and potentially disastrous upshot.
Elsewhere, veteran LAPD officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) and his rookie partner Hanson (Ryan Phillippe), pull over a distinguished African American couple Cameron (Terrence Dashon Howard) and Christine (Thandie Newton) for the uncommon offense of partaking in a common sexual act while driving. Ryan’s racism exudes when he “searches” Christine for weapons and threatens to cuff and book them both. Because of Ryan’s unnecessary actions, Hanson requests a change in partner, and as a newcomer to the force, he attempts to be fair and just towards all walks of life.