[VIDEO] Collateral (2004) Close Quarters Gunplay Scene Broken Down — Did Hollywood Actually Get It Right?


You may have memory-holed it, but back in 2004, Tom Cruise played a cold, methodical hitman with a jaded heart of gold and Jamie Fox played his unwitting chauffeur. You could say it was like the opposite of Driving Miss Daisy. One of the unique things about this film, though, is how Tom Cruise’s character handled himself throughout the various gun interactions.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Hollywood does a great deal of embellishment when it comes to how characters use guns. But the odd thing about Collateral is how much of the basic mechanics they appear to have gotten right. We’re going to need your call, though, as Vickers Tactical does its run-down of one scene where Tom Cruise’s character engaged two armed bad guys in an alleyway.

Let’s break it down.

NOTE: Possible spoilers? Look, the movie’s been out since 2004.

The Setup


In Collateral, Tom Cruise’s character starts the scene with his first opponent roughly 5 yards from him and a second one adjacently located at around 7 yards. This is pretty close quarters. Larry from Vickers Tactical sets up two targets at roughly the same configuration.

From this position, both hands are pretty far from the holstered gun.

The Sequence


In the movie,¬†Vincent pushes the main antagonist’s gun to the side with his non-dominant hand and swings his hips back to give his dominant hand access to his handgun. This also gives him a very brief angle to move his head out of the way of the barrel of his opponent’s gun.

Larry from Vickers Tactical doesn’t have to do this. His only concern is to drop his hips and cant his body back just far enough to clear the pistol from its holster.

He does point out there’s a very real danger in this technique. Namely, Vincent’s hand has the potential to veer in front of the barrel of his gun. As such, be warned before practicing this technique in a controlled environment.

A second threat relates to firing from retention. Vincent shoots his handgun without being able to aim. He locks his arm so that it is aligned to his front and then fires two shots. At close range (less than 5 yards), this may be fine if practiced. For a beginner who has never attempted this before, it could prove disastrous.

Generally, this range of practiced movements is something done in advanced pistol gunnery classes. It’s not a beginner’s move. Even competitive shooters, such as Larry from Vickers Tactical, don’t take this sort of technique lightly.

The Second Opponent

After Vincent takes care of his first threat, the second appears to be rather easy. The handgun is already out, the other guy doesn’t yet have his firearm fully drawn, and it just becomes a close quarter shot. Vincent is even able to properly aim.


The biggest obstacle in addressing the second opponent appears to be on pivoting. Properly pivoting with the hips can quickly allow you to put sights on center mass and discharge two controlled shots.

The first opponent was arguably a controlled situation. When firing from retention, there’s a lot of trust that you have properly aligned your body because you cannot look through the sights. You also have to worry about where your various appendages are in relation to the barrel of the gun. There are a lot of things to mess up in the first part of this scenario drill. For the second part, it’s mostly just cleaning up.

In conclusion, this is a great example of where a movie gets advanced pistol gunnery mechanics right. There’s no magic shots in the real world. And, like a trained actor, you have to put a lot of time, practice, and training into a technique before you can expect it to work for you.

This is one scenario drill where you definitely want to do it in a controlled environment, under supervision, and slow by-the-numbers pacing.

Running scenario drills like this one is a great way to keep training fun and work on advanced gunnery mechanics. So, what do you think? Did Tom Cruise nail his character in Collateral? Tell us in the comments section below.

About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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