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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.24%
Worth A Look37.93%
Average: 24.14%
Pretty Bad: 12.64%
Total Crap: 8.05%

5 reviews, 57 user ratings

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by Jason Whyte

"Best viewed in a cinema with a bad cellular signal."
4 stars

There's a moment in "Cellular" that really shows that the filmmakers trust the characters to problem-solve. Towards the end of the film, Mooney (William H. Macy), an LAPD detective, thinks he's been duped by a woman at a house that claims that she is the house owner, yet the real woman he has spoken with over the phone has told him she was kidnapped. When he makes a phone call to her house the voicemail picks up, he hangs up without leaving a message. Something isn't right. Mooney slowly paces around the room, and the camera lingers on his face for a moment. A bulb goes off in his head, and he remarks about the answering machine: "She didn't have an accent."

A lesser film would have simply had Mooney spit out immediately that the woman in question didn't have an accent, as if the filmmakers already knew ahead of time and wants to move blindingly ahead. All of the characters, like Mooney, actually get a chance to think a little.

I'm making this all sound like something out of the works of David Mamet or Quentin Tarantino, but "Cellular" is not in this league. This is a B-movie all the way, a suspense picture that tries an interesting angle on the genre and gets away with a lot of it. It's also a well-made thriller with solid acting and some big laughs (both in some truly outreagous actions sequences as well as supporting characters). Part of your enjoyment of the film will be how well you accept the idea, but if you're in, you're in.

The film opens on the kidnapping of Jessica (Kim Basinger). Jessica is taken to an attic in an unknown house that, oddly, has a phone right in the middle of the room. Greer (Jason Statham) notices this and slams it with a bat. But since Jessica is good at fixing things (she's a science teacher), she tries to piece the phone together, it works, but it only makes random calls. She reaches Ryan (Chris Evans), a young adult driving in his jeep. Ryan is reluctant to believe that this woman is really being kidnapped, but he eventually does, which leads him on a chase to find her son at a private school, and then to find her husband. As the film progresses, we slowly learn the background of Jessica and her family, as well as the kidnappers.

The premise strangely works, having a complete stranger being thrown into a huge adventure to help someone that he has never met before. Suddenly, Ryan is stealing cars and racing around Los Angeles in desperation to help Jessica. What works even more is the ingenious ways Chris Morgan's screenplay works the limitations and positive uses of those little cellular devices to build suspense. An amusing scene has Ryan trying to get to a homicide division that is located on the fourth floor, but he can't even get up the stairs nor on the elevator because of a low signal. Ryan also nearly drives into a tunnel, which is a big no-no in cellular land. And in a very amusing sequence, his cell phone battery also runs low (which I wouldn't really consider a plot trap; Ryan appeared to have been talking and taking pictures on it long enough before Jessica's call to drain the battery in that amount of time) which causes him to head to a cell phone store...and finds himself in a queue.

The casting is well-done. Chris Evans' work here is so good that it will certainly make him more noticed. If you see everything, you may remember him as the lead in the rather abysmal "The Perfect Score" or as the Jock in "Not Another Teen Movie", but his performances haven't really put him on the map until now. I was a bit surprised to learn that Kim Basinger decided to play a damsel in distress, but she is a lot more than a screaming woman in peril. Jason Statham, who has one of the best scowls in the industry today, makes a great bad guy. And William H. Macy is wonderful as a desk sergeant who is deeply calm and yet extremely professional, and who also has arguments with his wife over shopping. The film gives enough time to make Mooney an interesting player in the action.

Of course, the film's premise is silly and there are contrivances abound. That's part of the fun of watching disposable entertainments like these. "Cellular" works more than it fails, even if the film's director, David Ellis, makes a quick plug for his last film "Final Destination 2" in which there's a truck crashing into another vechile. But what's amazing about this is a few minutes later, the exact same thing happens to Ryan's just after he leaves it at an intersection. Perhaps Mr. Ellis can carry this over into his next film.

What this film won't do is make more cinemagoers turn off their cell phones, as it is a very cool social status to be called while out on the town. But since "Cellular" doesn't feature a single character throwing away their cell phone in anger, and nor does it feature people using these plastic contraptions in the middle of the country that would never get a signal, it's a cell phone thriller that knows what it's doing.

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originally posted: 09/14/04 15:02:45
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell killer thriller 4 stars
9/19/07 JM Synth Hugely contrived and a little dull but it is cheerfully silly 3 stars
6/10/07 R.W. Welch Not a bad premise but too contrived. Average acting. 3 stars
4/27/07 mb Lots of action, fun movie. 4 stars
1/30/07 Matt Welcome back the ever gorgeous Kim. Silly but reasonably original plot-and it does work! 4 stars
7/14/06 Stanley Thai A very thrilling film. VERY fast paced and some funny moments. The best thriller of 2004. 5 stars
6/07/06 Asif I like cheese(deal with it) 4 stars
4/10/06 Fabi Very good movie. 5 stars
3/23/06 The Talking Elbow Reminds me of watching porn without any sex in it. 2 stars
2/11/06 Loopt Low quality film for the brainless masses, don't bother 2 stars
2/03/06 Steve Newman I enjoyed this film immensely - good idea although extremely far fetched!!! 4 stars
1/05/06 me better than the film I shot of paul smith sucking off his dad 4 stars
10/26/05 Paul Smith This movie was absolute rubbish, the acting and plot were woeful 1 stars
9/27/05 Daniela Great movie, got it on DVD 5 stars
9/07/05 Taylor Fladgate Decent action flick, which some twists. 4 stars
9/05/05 Lenny Went Movie. Best Movie I Ever Saw. 5 stars
8/27/05 Dane Great movie 5 stars
8/21/05 Doremimi WHAT A RIDE! An utterly ridiculous ride, but a blast nonetheless! 4 stars
8/19/05 ES trailer tells us bad guys were cops, did we need to know that? save a little for the film 3 stars
7/09/05 ALDO Well Worth watching 4 stars
6/28/05 Steven This movie is garbage 1 stars
6/18/05 gray dave It was pretty damn good save 1 or 2 problems 4 stars
5/28/05 Indrid Cold A slick, MTVesque actioner. Not bad. 4 stars
4/19/05 David Awesome 5 stars
3/31/05 Nick Boyd Highly implausible but moderately suspenseful 3 stars
3/29/05 albert ˇRYAN!ˇJESSICA!ˇRYAN!ˇJESSICA! 3 stars
3/06/05 Susan Sunderland Way better than I expected. Enjoyable 5 stars
2/15/05 American Slasher Goddess It's not nothing we haven't seen before, but it's passable. 3 stars
2/05/05 LilyM I didn't expect it be good at all, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! 5 stars
2/04/05 Barbara Long I thought this was really good film, I'd watch it again 5 stars
1/28/05 Charlie A little fast paced, but interesting plot with a ton of action 4 stars
1/23/05 Dan Great Movie!! 5 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel Not a slow moment. Action and suspense deluxe in a well done B+ movie. 5 stars
1/14/05 Turtle Nothing more than a Nokia commercial. And a shitty one at that. 1 stars
1/09/05 Feliciano man, its a really good movie, well done and zero cheesyness 5 stars
1/01/05 Mike Predictable popcorn crap. Contrived, unbelievable and ridiculous. 1 stars
12/15/04 Etheridge Hoogendijk Kim Basinger is GOOD in it. Why so much damn sullen distress about her role? 4 stars
12/14/04 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Yep, Jessica Biel plays too many obnoxious girlfriends of guys too pussywhipped to dump 'em 4 stars
12/14/04 Hilary Adamson Could've been awesome without Jessica Biel's character mucking it up. 4 stars
12/01/04 nick2k no real plot, but not bad if you see what the movie is driven by. but 'phone booth' owns! 4 stars
10/20/04 Steve Kelley Breaks the rules by giving extras the best lines. But fresh because of it. 4 stars
9/24/04 Agent Sands Actually nothing like "Phone Booth." More like "Speed." Statham makes a good villain. 4 stars
9/23/04 jcjs terrible, beyond contrived, can't believe Ebert gave it 3.5/4.0, my first 'Total Crap' 1 stars
9/22/04 Maz Not bad. Suggest it for a cheap ticket, or a rental 4 stars
9/20/04 Robin Kept me in deep suspense 5 stars
9/20/04 jeff cheesy, good nokia and porsche adv, the hot chick from texa chainsaw mas is in it :) 3 stars
9/20/04 doug bad idea to begin with; the plot is ridiculous and the acting is average; I walked out 2 stars
9/17/04 me A good film 4 stars
9/17/04 ANDREW Awful signal coming from Screen in form a horrid movie 1 stars
9/17/04 Kyle Wellcome Interesting plot, little cheesy at times, but overall good flick 4 stars
9/15/04 Master of Sinanju Kim basinger's facelift is MUCH too tight.She should have had her box tightened too! 2 stars
9/14/04 Mark D Fulwiler Hang up on this phone call! 2 stars
9/14/04 Elizabeth Entertaining "popcorn movie"; Evans a charismatic lead. 3 stars
9/13/04 me A great film 5 stars
9/12/04 Galadie I've seen better made-for-tv movies 1 stars
9/11/04 SB Suspenseful, funny & a HOT leading man! 5 stars
9/11/04 Verizon not a sponser If they were, then Kim would be dead in 10 minutes 3 stars
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  10-Sep-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jan-2005



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