Retro Review: Cellular

Okay, all of us are driven insane by the amount of cellular phones that are in our society today. From that guy who is constantly on the phone while driving to the mother who is screaming into her phone as she walks down the grocery store aisle, people just don’t realize how much they use their phones and how much they disturb people around them.

Well what if contacting one of these crazies was your only hope at living? Well, I guess then you would be screwed.

That particular circumstance is the only hope for suburban housewife and kidnap victim Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) who has been able to use the remnants of a shattered telephone to reach out and touch someone. That someone is twentysomething Ryan (Chris Evans), who by a freak of nature actually listens to the woman’s cry for help. What would you do? Hang up? Think it’s a joke? Or become an instant “superhero” and save the damsel in distress?

“Cellular” is being marketed as a “nail-biter” thriller which is sure to thrill, captivate and excite audiences. The only problem is that the marketing people and the filmmakers each made two totally different films. There is nothing scary, thrilling or “nail-biting” about this movie. Instead what you have is a comedy-action film with a young kid who all of a sudden has to become a “superhero” and save the girl.

I was literally baffled to see how many different ways that stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis was able to screw up the intense thriller based scenes. Everywhere the audience turns there is another thing to disrupt the tension.

The cellphone battery running out, going into a tunnel will lose the signal, crossing connections to another cellphone user are all plot elements that if executed well could have been hair-raising but instead come off as more “obstacle-course” comedy/action sequences than tense moments.

Ellis was able to use his style of action and humor in his previous film, “Final Destination 2” which worked some what but here it just seems in bad taste. Do we really want to laugh as a guy tries to save a woman from an insane kidnapper?

The film is based on a story by Larry Cohen (“Phone Booth”) and that story was adapted by first time screenwriter Chris Morgan. Somewhere between these two guys we lost a good movie. What happened?

As the film struggled for its identity, I found myself some what impressed with Chris Evans in the lead. Evans is able to hold his own in scenes and has great on-screen charisma.

I also liked poor Kim Basinger who seemed to be the only character scared in this film. Jason Statham as the kidnapper is a throwaway role for the actor. But if you have to feel sorry for anyone in this film it is poor William H Macy, who plays the cop trying to find Basinger.

Macy is a brilliant actor and a wonderful talent but seeing him with green mud on his face and him uttering cliché-like lines like “I am too old for this, crap” is just awful. If this would have been a thriller and more like “Hitchcock-in-style” than Macy probably would have been perfect.

So don’t believe the ad campaigns, “Cellular” is just as much of a throwaway film as one of those $40 disposable cellphones.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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