New Line, September 2004 Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Moments after Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a high school science teacher, returns from walking her son to the school bus three men invade her Brentwood home and kill the housekeeper. They want something from Jessica's husband and they will kill to get it. She is abducted and driven to a remote farmhouse where she is locked in the attic until they can find her husband Craig (Richard Burgi), a real estate agent, to get what they want. But Jessica doesn't know what it is they are seeking and when she is left alone in the attic she tries to repair the smashed wall phone to call for help.
Jessica's science skills help her rewire the phone line and randomly dial an unknown number by clicking two wires together. Driving somewhere near Venice Beach, Ryan (Chris Evans, NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE), a college student, answers his cell phone. The caller has a bad connection and a wild story about being kidnapped and held in an abandoned farmhouse. At first he doesn't believe her, but Jessica begs him to stay on the line and contact the police. Ryan takes his cell phone to the nearest police station and gives the desk officer, Mooney (William H. Macy) a message from Jessica Martin, but a sudden outbreak of violence in the squad room causes Jessica's message to get lost in the shuffle. And when Ryan overhears the kidnappers threaten to grab her son Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN) from school to force her to tell them what she knows, he realizes he is the only hope she has of getting through this ordeal alive.
CELLULAR is an action packed thriller written by Larry Cohen, (who also wrote PHONE BOOTH), along with co-writer Chris Morgan. Ryan, the hero of this flim, has the rep of being an unreliable character, especially with his girlfriend, but this life or death situation puts him in the center of the action and demands that he perform dangerous feats and become someone who can be counted on. Anyone who has ever had a faulty cell phone connection can understand the stress this film premise creates for him when low batteries, underground tunnels and bad guys appear. But Ryan comes through every obstacle, and with a little help from Officer Mooney -- who like any good cop starts to piece together what is really going on -- saves the day. It's 94 minutes of heartstopping car races and terrific suspense that finishes with a spectacular climax.
Kim Basinger gives a taut, chilling performance and it's reported that she and Chris Evan made it a point not to meet prior to the filming in order to give an authentic feeling of strangers making a connection over the phone. British actor Jason Stratham (SNATCH, THE ITALIAN JOB) very convincingly portrays the lead kidnapper minus a British accent, and Eddie Driscoll has a cameo role as an obnoxious lawyer. Rated PG-13 (for violence, terror situations, language and some sexual references)
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