Crash (2004 film)

Crash (2004 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Haggis
Produced by Paul Haggis
Mark R. Harris
Robert Moresco
Don Cheadle
Bob Yari
Cathy Schulman
Screenplay by Paul Haggis
Bobby Moresco
Story by Paul Haggis
Starring Don Cheadle
Sandra Bullock
Matt Dillon
Jennifer Esposito
Michael Peña
Brendan Fraser
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
Terrence Howard
Ryan Phillippe
Larenz Tate
Thandie Newton
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography J. Michael Muro
Editing by Hughes Winborne
Studio ApolloProScreen GmbH & Co
Harris Company
BlackFriar's Bridge
Bull's Eye Entertainment
Yari Film Group
DEJ Productions
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s) September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (TIFF)
May 6, 2005 (2005-05-06) (United States)
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.5 million
Box office $98,410,061

Crash is a 2005 American drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Paul Haggis. The film is about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, California. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard in 1991.[1] It won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing in 2005 at the 78th Academy Awards.

Several characters' stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles; a black LAPD detective estranged from his mother, his criminal younger brother and gang associate, the white District Attorney and his irritated and pampered wife, a racist white police officer who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner, an African American Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with the officer, a Persian-immigrant father who is wary of others, and a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter.



The film opens following a car accident involving Los Angeles detectives Graham Waters (Don Cheadle), his partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito), and Kim Lee. As Ria and Kim Lee exchange racial insults, Waters gets out of the car and investigates the crime scene which had indirectly caused the accident. One day prior, Persian Farhad (Shaun Toub) and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh) are buying a gun, but after a belligerent alteraction with the racist shopkeeper, an infuriated Farhad is escorted outside. Dorri buys the gun and a red box of ammunition. In another part of town, Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser), the local district attorney, and his wife, Jean (Sandra Bullock) are carjacked by Anthony (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Peter (Larenz Tate). Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The surviving shooter is a white male identified as an undercover police officer. The detectives learn that the dead shooter, a black male was also a police officer. Afterwards, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz (Michael Peña) is changing the locks. He overhears Jean, who is frustrated having felt nervous about the two black men but refrained from saying anything to avoid appearing racist.

LAPD Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) and his partner, Tom Hanson (Ryan Phillippe) begin their evening patrol. They pull over a Navigator similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions. They order the couple, director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. An angry Ryan sexually molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. When Ryan finishes, the couple are released without a ticket. The next day, Hanson talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon (Keith David) about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hanson's charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hanson and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car and mockingly tells Hanson that he should justify it by claiming to have uncontrollable flatulence.

At the Thayers' house, Christine is enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was violated. Cameron insists what he did was correct and then storms out. At his home, Daniel talks to his daughter, Lara, who is hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an "invisible impenetrable cloak". He then puts her to bed and then gets a page for another locksmith job. In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, distracted by their argument about racism, hit something while passing by a parked white van. Getting out, they see that they have run over an Asian man. Unsure as to what to do, they eventually pull him out from under the car and dump him in front of a hospital. Ryan visits Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine), an insurance representative with whom he argued earlier. Apologizing for insulting her previously, he explains that his father was diagnosed with a bladder infection but fears the diagnosis is incorrect and that it may be prostate cancer. Ryan wants him to see a different doctor, but is told that their health plan won't cover it. As a last resort to talk her into helping out his father, Ryan says his father employed black workers when others wouldn't. He explains that his father's business was destroyed when the city began to show preference to minority owned businesses.

Daniel replaces a lock at Farhad's shop, and tells Farhad that the door is defective. Farhad accuses Daniel of cheating him, and refuses to pay. The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and tagged with racist graffiti. His insurance won't cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence as he had been advised to replace the door. Farhad vows revenge, and discovers Daniel's full name on the discarded work order.

Waters goes to visit his mother. She asks him to find his younger brother. Waters promises to find him, and notices the lack of food in the apartment before leaving. Outside, he lies to Ria and tells her his mother wasn't home. In the studio where Cameron works, a white producer, Fred (Tony Danza), suggests that a black actor isn't acting "black" enough. Christine is involved in a car accident and trapped inside her overturned car. Ryan is one of the officers who responds to the accident. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine screams for him to leave, but he gets her to agree to allow him to rescue her once he points out gasoline leaking from the gas tank. With the assistance of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as the car bursts into flames. A grateful but confused Christine looks back at Ryan as she is taken away. While Cameron is driving home, Anthony and Peter attempt to carjack his vehicle. A frustrated Cameron fights back, insulted by Anthony calling him "nigga". As police officers are arriving, Cameron gets in the car and drives away at gunpoint with Anthony. A car chase ensues. One of the police responders to the chase is Tom Hanson, who recognizes the vehicle as the one he and Ryan pulled over the night before. As Cameron is trapped into a driveway, he takes Anthony's gun and furiously yells insults at the officers. Just as he is about to pull out the gun, Hanson stops him and convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and go home. Hanson tells the fellow officers to leave him with a "harsh warning", as he has no prior history of breaking the law. Cameron drops off Anthony at a sidewalk, gives him back the gun, and tells him that he embarrasses him.

Peter is picked up hitchhiking by Hanson, who shoots him when he mistakenly suspects he is drawing a gun, then dumps his body. He is revealed to be Waters' missing brother. Waters' mother identifies Peter's body at the morgue and Waters promises to find who is responsible, but his mother tells him she already knows that he killed his brother because he failed to find him as she asked. Dorri comes to see Farhad, who explains that he tried to shoot Daniel after looking his address up in a phone book, but Daniel's daughter somehow blocked the shots. He thinks that the little girl was his angel. Lara believed she could save her father due to her 'impenetrable cloak', which is justifiable due to the inexplicable lack of gunshot wounds on her body. Dorri removes the pistol and ammunition revealing them to be blanks. Anthony inadvertently returns to the white van from earlier. Finding the keys still in the door, he drives the van away. Kim Lee (the Asian woman from the crash at the film's opening) arrives at a hospital looking for her husband Choi Jin Gui, the man Anthony and Peter hit. Still coherent, he tells her to cash a check that he has in his wallet. Anthony takes the white van to a chop shop, and finds a number of Thai and Cambodian immigrants locked in the back of the van, revealing that the Asian man was in fact smuggling immigrants. The shop owner offers $500 for each. Anthony refuses and takes the immigrants to Chinatown where he releases them all. Driving away he avoids a crash involving Shaniqua. The film closes as those involved in the collision hurl racial insults at one another.

Critical reception

The film received generally positive reviews with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 148 out of the 196 reviews they tallied were positive for a score of 76% and a certification of "fresh",[2] while metacritic tallied an average score of 69 out of 100 for Crash's critical consensus.[3] Roger Ebert gave the film 4/4 stars and described it as, "a movie of intense fascination"[4] listing it as the best film of 2005. The film also ranks at number 460 in Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.[5]

Some critics assert that Asians are portrayed in an overwhelmingly negative light with few, if any, redeeming qualities. The film has been criticized for reinforcing Asian stereotypes and lacking any manner of significant development of its Asian characters.[6] From an alternative perspective, the film has been critiqued for "laying bare the racialised fantasy of the American dream and Hollywood narrative aesthetics" and for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God".[7] The film has also been criticised for using multicultural and sentimental imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.[8]

Box office

Crash opened in wide release on May 6, 2005, and was a box-office success in the late spring of 2005. The film had a budget of $6.5 million (plus $1 million in financing). Because of the financial constraints, director Haggis filmed in his own house, borrowed a set from the TV show Monk, used his car in parts of the film, and even used cars from other staff members. It grossed $53.4 million domestically, making back more than seven times its budget. Despite its success in relation to its cost, Crash was the least grossing film, at the domestic box office, to win Best Picture since The Last Emperor in 1987.


Best Picture Oscar

In 2005, Crash controversially won the Best Picture Oscar over the critically favored Brokeback Mountain, making it the second film ever (the other being The Sting) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without even being nominated for either of the three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Best Drama, Best Comedy/Musical and Best Foreign Film). There was an audible gasp among award attendees when Crash was announced as the Best Picture winner and presenter Jack Nicholson was seen throwing up his hands, raising his eyebrows and stepping back as if in disbelief.

Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-homosexual discomfort among Academy members[9][10] while critic Roger Ebert was of a different opinion, arguing the better film won that year. He went on to question why many critics weren't mentioning the other nominees and that they were just mindlessly bashing Crash just because it won over Brokeback Mountain. Ebert also placed Crash on his best ten list as number one best film of 2005[11] and also correctly predicted it to win best picture.[12]

Crash was nominated for six awards in the 78th Academy Awards (2006), and won three of them, including a win for Best Picture. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards: one for Best Supporting Actor (Matt Dillon) and the other for Best Screenplay (Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco).

Other awards include Best Ensemble Cast at the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards; Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2005; Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Newton) at the BAFTA Awards; Best Writer at the Critics' Choice Awards; Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (Howard) at the Black Movie Awards; Best First Feature and Best Supporting Male (Dillon) at the Independent Spirit Awards; Best Acting Ensemble and Best Writer at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards; and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Howard) and Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards.

Award Category Winner/Nominee Won
78th Academy Awards Best Director Paul Haggis No
Best Editing Hughes Winborne Yes
Best Picture Paul Haggis & Cathy Schulman
Best Original Song "In the Deep" No
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco Yes
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon No
2006 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Michael Peña Yes
1st Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Paul Haggis Yes
Best Film
59th BAFTA Film Awards Best Cinematography J. Michael Muro No
Best Director Paul Haggis
Best Editing Hughes Winborne
Best Film
Best Sound
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco Yes
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle No
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Yes
Black Reel Awards 2005 Best Actor Don Cheadle No
Best Cast Yes
Best Film
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon No
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton
11th BFCA Critics' Choice Awards Best Cast Yes
Best Director Paul Haggis No
Best Film
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard
Best Writer Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco Yes
Casting Society of America Awards 2005 Best Film Casting – Drama Sarah Finn & Randi Hiller Yes
18th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Yes
Best Screenplay Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard No
Cinema Audio Society Awards 2005 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures No
12th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Yes
58th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement Paul Haggis No
Empire Awards Best Actor Matt Dillon No
Best Actress Thandie Newton Yes
Best Film No
Scene of the Year
63rd Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco No
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon
37th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Yes
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Terrence Howard
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Chris "Ludacris" Bridges No
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Don Cheadle
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Larenz Tate
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thandie Newton
17th Producers Guild of America Awards Motion Picture Producer of the Year Paul Haggis & Cathy Schulman No
12th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Cast Yes
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle No
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon
6th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Yes
4th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Cast Yes
Best Film No
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco Yes
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon No
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard
58th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco Yes

Original score

All songs were written and composed by Mark Isham, except where noted. The original score was released through labels Gut and Colosseum in 2005.

No. Title Note Length
1. "Crash"     3:21
2. "Go forth my son"     0:57
3. "Hands in plain sight"     3:48
4. "...Safe now"     1:03
5. "No such things as monsters"     3:59
6. "Find my baby"     4:23
7. "Negligence"     2:56
8. "Flames"     7:59
9. "Siren"     4:41
10. "A really good cloak"     3:28
11. "A harsh warning"     2:51
12. "Saint Christopher"     1:55
13. "Sense of touch"     6:44
14. "In the Deep"   co-written by Bird York and Michael Becker; sung by Bird York 5:55
15. "Maybe Tomorrow"   by Stereophonics 4:34


The soundtrack's title is : Crash - Music from and inspired by the film.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "If I..."   KansasCali 4:18
2. "Plastic Jesus"   Billy Idol 4:49
3. "Are You Beautiful"   Chris Pierce 2:52
4. "Free"   Civilization 3:43
5. "Hey God"   Randy Coleman 4:04
6. "Take The Pain Away"   Al Berry 4:19
7. "Problems"   Move.meant 3:49
8. "Arrival"   Pale 3 / Beth Hirsch 5:08
9. "Acedia (The Noonday Demon)"   Quinn 3:00
10. "Save Me"   Bird York 4:26
11. "Afraid"   Quincy 5:08
12. "Maybe Tomorrow"   Stereophonics 4:37

Home media

Crash was released on DVD on September 6, 2005 as widescreen and fullscreen one-disc versions, with a number of bonus features, including a music video by KansasCali (now known as The Rocturnals) for the song "If I..." off of the "Inspired by Soundtrack to Crash". The director's cut of the film was released in a 2-disc special edition DVD on April 4, 2006, with more bonus content than the one-disc set. The director's cut is three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The scene where Daniel is talking with his daughter under her bed is extended and a new scene is added with Officer Hanson in the police station locker room.

The film also was released in a limited-edition VHS version. It was the last Academy Award (Best Picture) winning film to be released in the VHS-tape format.[citation needed] It was also the first Best Picture winner to be released on Blu-ray Disc in the U.S., on June 27, 2006.[13]

Crash is also currently #2 in the list of Netflix Top 100, a list compiled of films most frequently rented on[14]

Television series

A 13-episode series premiered on the Starz network on October 17, 2008. The series features Dennis Hopper as a record producer in Los Angeles, California, and how his life is connected to other characters in the city, including a police officer (Ross McCall) and his partner, actress-turned-police officer, Arlene Tur. The cast consists of a Brentwood mother (Clare Carey), her real-estate developer husband (D. B. Sweeney), former gang member-turned-EMT (Brian Tee), a street-smart driver (Jocko Sims), an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chavez), and a detective (Nick Tarabay).[15]


  1. ^ Crash DVD Commentary Track. 2005.
  2. ^ "Crash Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  3. ^ "Crash reviews at". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  4. ^ "Crash :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  5. ^ "Empire Features". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  6. ^ ""Crash" ultimately upholds stereotypes about Asian-Americans". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  7. ^ "darkmatter » Crash and the City". 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  8. ^ "Film Criticism Current Issue". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  9. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 5, 2006). "Breaking no ground: Why Crash won, why Brokeback lost and how the academy chose to play it safe". The Los Angeles Times.,0,5359042.story. 
  10. ^ "Maybe Crash's upset at the Oscars shouldn't have been such a surprise?". The Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2009. 
  11. ^ "The fury of the 'Crash'-lash". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "historical Blu-ray Release Dates". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  14. ^ "Netflix Top 100". Netflix. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  15. ^ "Crash: A Starz Original Series". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 

External links

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