Cell and suspense - Cellular
PLOT PIVOTS ON MOBILE PHONE: Cellular
Director: David R. Ellis
Cast: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans,
William H. Macy, Jason Statham
Storyline: A kidnapped woman gets to make one call, `if the signal dies so does she'
Bottomline: 94 minutes of action, suspense and eye candy.
When you see Jason Statham's name in the credits, you immediately place him as the reticent, stocky protector of the pipsqueak in the recent `Transporter 2.' But as `Cellular' takes off, he seems to be the bad guy, more likely to kidnap the pipsqueak in this film. Funny how reel life turns out! The pipsqueak here is called Ricky Martin, one of the many snort-worthy features of this film. There are places where the filmmakers have considerately inserted laughs so that the action doesn't get overwhelming. Such as the cop Mooney, who after 27 years on the force wants to open a day spa, and the arctic blue Porsche Carrera-driving lawyer with a telling registration plate. And you know what? It really works. This 2004 film (being released a bit late, what?) is chicken manchurian and has no illusions about being a kakori kebab. So you get fast cars, chilly women in bikinis on the Santa Monica pier and a lead who is easy on the eye.
When the film begins, Jessica (Kim Basinger), a biology teacher, gets an extra wave from her son, indicating that something bad is probably going to happen. Sure enough, she gets kidnapped by Statham and Co, and is shoved into an attic where she manages to make a call to a random number that happens to belong to Ryan (Chris Evans). It's up to him to believe her story (Why would kidnappers thoughtfully give their victim a phone? You must say he has a point). Well, he does believe her and therein lies the tale.
He spends the rest of the movie with his ear to the phone, as she helps him figure things out. The most obvious feature of `Cellular' is that it sounds a lot like `Phone Booth,' a 2002 film with Colin Farrell. And with good reason as Larry Cohen is given story credits for both films. `Cellular' is a film that is co-dependent on an indispensable technology, so the plot is often dictated by the cell phone features. What do you know about cell phones? That they need to be charged and that they lose range in tunnels and in some parts of a building? They also register the last few numbers of incoming calls and have video recording facilities. And boom! You have your story with all the possible catches in the way of your two protagonists. Which brings us to Basinger. You wonder why the biology teachers you've experienced didn't look like her. At 50 plus, the woman remains ravishing. Evans as Ryan is likeable enough. He has a goofy air and saccharine good looks that you'd connect with the teen flick (incidentally, he acted in `Not Another Teen Movie'). Strangely enough, the director downplays the cell phones themselves. The film has the potential to be propaganda material for sleek, chic phones, but Ryan himself uses the dumpy, reliable Nokia 6600 most of the time.
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