For Phone Booth to work you have to suspend your disbelief the entire time lest you fall into the gaping plot holes. Director Joel Schumacher accomplishes this with a brisk pace and a single setting putting the viewer virtually in the phone booth. The opening narrative of Phone Booth deceivingly introduces a current day morality tale about a fast-talking, deceitful sports agent who has to talk his way out of being killed by an anonymous caller. Stu Sheppard (Colin Farrell) walks around the streets of New York City, wheeling and dealing contracts on the cell phone glued to his ear. However, on this fateful day, he stops at this one particular phone booth, and we learn it's the last phone booth in Manhattan…Stu will make the last phone call from this booth before it is removed.
So, why does he use this booth when he's got the latest cell phone on his hip? Because he's calling Pamela (Katie Holmes: Dawson's Creek), his girlfriend and figured his wife (Radha Mitchell: Pitch Black) wouldn't appreciate seeing regular calls to another woman. But, on this day, something odd happens, the phone in the booth rings, and Stu answers it. Big mistake.
The caller (Kiefer Sutherland) tells him that he has been watching him, knows of his telephonic infidelity, and gives him a choice: end his telephone affair with Pam and tell his wife, or die. He brushes the caller off as a nut, but to show that he's serious, the caller shoots a man dead on the street and everyone thinks it's Stuee.
In comes Detective Ramey (Forrest Whitaker) to handle the situation. He tries to talk Stu out of the booth and figure out why he killed this innocent man. Problem is that the caller tells him that if he leaves the box or tells the cops whom he's talking to on the phone, he'll be killed. This guy is stuck between a rock and a hard place, or in this case a phone and an unseen madman.
Phone Booth is just the right length and at just the right tempo. Had it been any longer or slower, it would have not worked. There is good quality acting on the part of the main characters, particularly Sutherland as the voice on the other end of the line. Farrell, who does great as Stu, was probably cast because he's one of the few actors moviegoers will pay to see close up for an hour and a half. Forrest Whitaker is sufficient as the police captain who wonders if Stu is a killer or a captive. Holmes and Mitchell make brief appearances as the wife and girlfriend, but mostly blend into the background. Actually, Katie Holmes was just a little too sappy as the naïve ingénue who claims she didn't know that a man who called her the same time everyday from a pay phone was married. Girlfriend, whatever.
This movie sat on the mantelpiece for a while, as it's original release date, was delayed because of the Washington, DC area sniper case. The holdup didn't seem to affect the worth of the film.
Notes: Colin Farrell can call me anytime.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: Phone Booth is not exactly off the hook, but don't hang up on it either.
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