Film / Crash

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
Det. Graham Waters

If you're looking for the J.G. Ballard novel which inspired a completely different film, go here. If not, read on.

Crash debuted at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. It saw general release the next year and was the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 2005. This ensemble piece directed by Paul Haggis addresses racism affecting the lives of several Los Angelenos as they intersect over several days' time. The incident that starts it all off is the carjacking of a white couple, the Cabots, by two black carjackers, Anthony and Peter...

This film provides examples of:

  • Adopt the Dog: Anthony releasing the vanload of illegal immigrants rather than selling them.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: At point blank range, a gunshot will do some heavy damage, blank round or not.
  • Asian Drivers: Towards the end of the film, causing said crash and with a heavy accent to boot. For a movie about racial stereotypes, this is pretty ironic, no?
    • Also occurs at the beginning of the film, and played with in Ria's racial insults.
  • Asian Store-Owner: Farhad.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Anthony's rant about why modern Hip Hop music sucks. Anthony is played by Ludacris, a hip-hop artist.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Plenty.
  • The CSI Effect: Invoked. When Anthony tries to sell an SUV with which he'd accidentally run over a man, the chop shop owner turns him down with a rant about how every week on TV some guy thinks he can outsmart the forensic experts and ends up going to jail with a stupid look on his face.
  • Death by Racism: Averted and subverted.
  • The Dutiful Son: Officer Ryan to his sick father.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: After the incident with the Thayers, Tom asks for reassignment to a single car due to his partner John's stark racism. However, since it would be incredibly detrimental to the careers of both Tom and his African American superior to go on record about John's racism, they use a cover story of uncontrollable flatulence so Tom can have his own car.
  • Fair Weather Friend: Employed in one of this film's subplots as part of the anti-racism aesop. Sandra Bullock's character, a lonely woman married to a wealthy but frequently absent husband, has previously shown hostility to a Mexican repairman. Later on, she takes a fall in her home that leaves her unable to walk and she calls one of her white upper-class lady friends for help. Her "friend" ignores her plea, but her Mexican maid does come to her aid.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Deconstructed rather brutally even though they didn't interact through the movie. Waters is the detective who looks after his drug abusing mother, while Peter (younger brother) is out carjacking with a friend and is now dead. What makes this such a brutal deconstruction is the fact that while Waters looks after their mother, she is utterly convinced that it's Peter who is doing the caring.
  • Freudian Excuse: The reason for Officer Ryan's animosity towards black people, as he explains to Shaniqua Johnson, is that his father was a janitor all his life and helped African Americans through his career. Then, when better jobs started hiring, only the African Americans got the jobs, not his father.
    • The movie does imply that some of that animosity is a result of his experience as an LAPD cop.When he's having his final conversation with his former partner he tells him that he's still new on the force and doesn't yet know what to expect.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: How Officer John Ryan gets his Character Development into a Noble Bigot with a Badge.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Anthony and Peter.
  • Humans Are Flawed
  • Hyperlink Story
  • Hypocritical Humor: Done rather darkly; most memorably, the carjacking that sets everything off is perpetrated after Anthony rants about why white Los Angelenos, the LAPD especially, would think the worst of them even if they aren't intimidating and vastly outnumbered by white people in the area with a danger of police harassment, so they should be scared instead.
    Anthony: "So why aren't we scared?"
    Peter: "Maybe 'cause we got guns?"
    Anthony: "You could be right." (They rush off to carjack a rich white couple).
    • Anthony is a master at this. Just prior to the carjacking, he and Peter are leaving a restaurant and Anthony is complaining about the service, arguing that the waitress didn't serve them well because of the stereotype that blacks are bad tippers. When Peter asks Anthony how much of a tip he left, Anthony incredulously asks "You expect me to pay for that kind of service?"
  • Incoming Ham: Quite a bit, though Mrs Cabot's fuming racist tirade and Terrence Howard going Tupac on a cop who's stopped him stand out.
  • Infant Immortality: That invisible cape really does work. Kinda.
  • Karma Houdini: Hanson, who gets away with killing Peter and burns the evidence. Though to be honest Peter had carjacked people and had actually run over a man, he still could have admitted to accidentally shooting him.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • The Man Is Keeping Us Down
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Farhad's reaction when he ends up shooting Daniel's daughter and, by some miracle (to him), she's still alive. His daughter finds him spooked out of his mind in his store, contemplating what he had done.
  • Nice Guy: Daniel Ruiz, the locksmith. He's a hard worker, family man, and doesn't hurl one racist insult with and without people around him. Even when Farhad accused Daniel of trying to cheat him, Daniel yells, but only telling to him to change the door.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Officer John Ryan.
  • Not So Different: Hey, guess what, we have the same figurine. That's funny. Oh crap you just shot me.
  • One Degree of Separation
  • One-Woman Wail: She pretty much sings through the entire second half of the movie.
  • Oscar Bait
  • Patron Saint: A miniature statue of St. Christopher.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Hanson shoots Peter in the chest because of this. But the "weapon" Peter took out was only a figurine that looked identical to the one Hanson had.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 1991 film Grand Canyon, which features Steve Martin as a misanthropic Hollywood producer (playing against type) whose life intersects with characters from all walks of life in LA, and which popularized the notion that LA was a Wretched Hive of class tension less than a year before the Rodney King riots. If not, in fact, The Remake of Grand Canyon.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Cameron gives this to Anthony after they both narrowly avoid arrest.
  • Taking the Bullet: After Farhad's store is sacked and his insurance claim is denied, he confronts Daniel, who he blames, and winds up shooting him. Daniel's daughter decides to save him with her invisible cloak. Nobody dies because the bullets were blanks. Farhad thinks it's a miracle, and that the little girl is his angel. In fact his daughter (wisely) bought them instead as she was afraid someone would be hurt.
  • The Unfavorite: Heavily implied with Waters's relationship with his mother during the last scene: She blames him for Peter's death and calls him [Peter] her only son.
  • You Are What You Hate: Defied when Anthony, who's entire worldview is colored by the inescapability of racism and the history of slavery has a chance to sell a vanload of Asian refugees into modern-day slavery. He ends up letting them go instead.