Life Advice From A Hitman

Jay Park
March 25, 2024

One of my favorite movies of all time is Collateral. It stars Jaime Foxx and Tom Cruise. Foxx is Max, a mild-mannered cab driver in Los Angeles. Tom Cruise is Vincent, a professional hitman at the top of his game. Fate brings the two together when Vincent hails Max’s cab at LAX and hires him to drive from hit to hit.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth spending a few hours on one evening. It’s well-made, intelligent, and action-filled, and it packs a powerful message.

Early in the relationship, Max explains to Vincent that driving the cab is temporary. It’s a step toward his dream of owning a limo company. Vincent notes the care and attention to detail Max pays his cab and encourages Max toward his dream.

The friendship turns adversarial when Max discovers Vincent is killing people at each stop.

When all but the last hit is complete, Max asks Vincent what’s wrong with him. Vincent’s response packs a punch, which is why I’ve gone back to this movie repeatedly through the years.

He doesn’t answer Max’s question. Instead, he turns it on Max.

“Someday. Someday my dream will come. One night you will wake up and discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you. It never will. Suddenly you are old. Didn’t happen, and it never will, because you were never going to do it anyway. You’ll push it into memory and then zone out in your barco lounger, being hypnotized by daytime TV for the rest of your life… All it ever took was a down payment on a Lincoln town car. That girl, you can’t even call that girl. What the beep are you still doing driving a cab?”
Vincent, Collateral

The movie is metaphorical. It says we’re all cab drivers making our way through life, and Death could be our next passenger. At any moment, the window of opportunity to turn our dreams into memories could slam shut.

What’s keeping you from making the down payment on your Lincoln Town Car?

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