Cellular

2004

In order for Cellular to come off believable, you mustn't belabor the obvious, -- and to do so would negate the entire movie. The obvious here being that if you were being held hostage, and your only link to the outside world was landline phone, why wouldn't you dial 911 or some other distress hotline number?

Well, I sat in the theater asking myself this question the entire time I watched Chris Evans run around the Los Angeles metropolitan area with a cell phone with screaming a Kim Basinger connected to the other end. Cellular, as the name implies, is a movie about a cell phone, well actually, a particular cell phone called by Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), who is inexplicably kidnapped and is being held hostage in a loft somewhere in or around LA. Using skills she probably learned from watching Mr. Wizard (Jessica is a science teacher) she manages to hot wire a busted phone, and begins to dial random phone numbers (but not 911, as logic--something this film sorely lacks--would dictate). On the other side is Ryan (Chris Evans: Not Another Teen Movie), a surfer boy who can't seem to forget his ex-girlfriend or learn some responsibility. Of course Ryan initially thinks the call is a prank until he hears one of Jessica's captors, Greer (Jason Statham: Snatch) threaten to kill her entire family unless she can turn over what they are looking for. Ryan, realizing that this phone call is not a drill, goes to the nearest police station and reports the call to an officer with a case of short-timer syndrome (William H. Macy). Ryan never gets any action taken because of a series of incidents at the police station that prevent him from seeing the right people.

The remainder of the movie is nothing spectacular and mainly consists of Ryan frantically driving around L.A. with a cell phone to his ear listening to Kim Basinger plea for help and vector him on what course of action to take next. What you didn't learn from watching the movie trailers, you can surmise on your own. Director David Ellis tries to wrench up the tension with revealing twists and comedic turns but it just doesn't go anywhere because you are still hung up on the fact that someone should have called 911 in the first 3 minutes of the film. Jessica, Ryan, and Mooney (Macy) act completely out of their characters, while although necessary for the film's continuity, only added to the implausibly. The plot holes in this film were larger than a Carnie Wilsonís old jeans. Cellular also suffered the banalities of mobile telephony such as the cell phone dying from a low battery, losing signals in tunnels and stairways, and cross talk.

The acting was nothing notable, and no one stood out in particular. Kim Basinger did an adequate job as a screaming and sniveling blonde babe in distress (although she's looking pretty damned good for a woman pushing 51.) Chris Evans was passable in his acting job as a selfish, self-centered slacker, or did he really need to act? William H. Macy doesn't really break style with his part nor does Jason Statham, who plays a heavy as he's done in many films in the past. If I had to pick amongst the cast the actor who was the best fit for their role, Statham would be it.

So, why is it that I still found Cellular to be somewhat entertaining? I really donít know, maybe amongst all the flaws it managed to keep me amused. The movie was also to keep you guessing as to what the gangsters were looking for and there were a few good twists thrown in, as well as a couple of laughs at the expense of Rick Hoffman's character. Still, it just doesn't give me that wild and tingly feeling I was expecting with this type of film. Perhaps I just couldn't, and still can't, get over that someone whose family was in that much trouble, with the ability to repair a phone, would dial a series of random numbers, relying on dumb luck, and the kindness of strangers, than to call in the S.W.A.T., or a good friend, or even Pizza Hut (they have caller ID).

I'll give this popcorn movie a B-; mainly because I thought that it could have been more than what it turned out to be. However, given the crop of "action" films out this summer, Cellular is not too bad.


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