Cellular (2004) / Thriller-Action
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language and some sexual references
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast: Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, William H. Macy, Eddie Driscoll, Jason Statham, Jessica Biel, Eric Adam Taylor Gordon, Christian Olsen, Richard Burgi, Eric Etebari
Director: David R. Ellis
Screenplay: Chris Morgan
Review published September 15, 2004
Reminiscent in feel with other "dumb fun" thrillers like Speed and the Die Hard series, Cellular isn't going to break through with cinematic originality, but it is still an engaging a 90 minute escapist thrill ride. Plot holes? Yes, there are many, and little logic anywhere to be found, but David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2) keeps the pace brisk enough for you to never have to think about any of them for very long before you get caught up in another plot development.
Ryan (Chris Evans, Not Another Teen Movie) is a young and somewhat irresponsible guy who picks up his cell phone one day, only to hear the cries of a woman (Basinger, Batman) who is reported to be kidnapped on the other end. He doesn't really buy it, but she sounds sort of convincing, so he hands the phone over to a cop (Macy, The Cooler) just as a melee breaks out in the police station. With the cops too busy to help, he can't hang up on the woman because she doesn't know her own number, so he does what he can to keep in contact with her and save her son and husband, who may also be targets. She doesn't know who or why the men are after her family, but she knows they will kill them to get what they want.
What Cellular has that most others of its ilk do not is pacing. This film moves at lightning speed and has a lot of fun doing it, such that even though you know deep down that it's a crock of bull, you have the feeling the creators know this full well along with you. Solid performances help, especially by Basinger in her vulnerability and Jason Statham (The Transporter, Snatch) as a menacing bad-ass. The direction by Ellis is spot on, exactly the tone it needed to be to make such a farfetched premise work. He just doesn't give a damn about plausibility, but he makes this an asset rather than a liability by beefing it up with humor, action, stunts and intrigue.
Expect nothing more than to be entertained and you'll have the best chance to enjoy this modest little suspense/action sleeper to its fullest. It's an old school formula, but somehow it works despite everything going against it. I wouldn't be foolish enough to declare this a great film, but while it was on, I was riveted by every laughably preposterous second.
©2004 Vince Leo