"A bland and uninvolving mixture of better movies."
"The Cell" has the plot ingredients of a box office smash. Beautiful heroine (Lopez), using new technology developed by fellow scientists (Jean Baptiste and Baker), goes inside the mind of comatose serial killer (D'Onofrio) to discover where he has hidden his latest (but still alive in captivity) victim, with FBI agent (Vaughan) and his sidekick (Weber) offering her whatever aid they can.See the potential? Certainly the chance for loads of cool special effects, a bit of gore as we witness the evil doings of the killer, suspense in the build up to "Will they save the girl?" and maybe a touch of romance between our heroes...
That's all there too, but unfortunately when all these ingredients come together, we don't what could have been a tasty 'filmic pizza with the lot' ...but more a mish mash of the right ingredients which produce a rather bland tasting dish.
It is clear that Tarsem has up until now been a director of music video clips (including the award winning and quite splendid "Losing my Religion" in 1991) and advertisements. As I walked out of "The Cell", I felt I had watched just that - a rather prolonged, often visually stimulating, but fairly non inspired video clip posing itself as a film (not helped by the presence of "she should stick to singing" Lopez). Tarsem clearly hasn't found his directorial stamp/style yet - besides the obvious slant towards great visuals, there seems little real dramatic tension and if anything, the film feels like a 'made for TV' cheapie.
The acting doesn't lift the film above this either unfortunately. Lopez has at times a nice screen presence, but besides her striking looks, is uninteresting as an actor. D'Onofrio's killer is one dimensional, more a fault of the script than anything else, and Vaughn is stilted and seems to be 'going through the paces' in his role. Jean Baptiste, stunning in her role in "Secret's and Lies", is the closest the cast gets to having a star as she at least brings something more believable to her character.Credit does go to the visual and special effects teams, DOP and
costume/make up departments who have helped create some very pretty pictures, often reminiscent of "What Dreams May Come". But this is not enough to redeem the film. While it isn't a 'stinker' in the classic sense, it neither is of a high enough standard worth making the effort to go out and see, and I am quite surprised it didn't go straight to video.--Paul Bugeja