Projections - Movie Reviews

Starring: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy, Eric Christian Olsen, Jessica Biel

It’s simple premise: A woman (Kim Basinger), kidnaped and squirreled away in a remote location finds a way to reassemble a broken phone and contact a randomly dialed stranger (Chris Evans), who has the film’s biggest role. Then, she has to keep him on the line as he tries to help because she’s not sure she can get another call out.

The aptly titled Cellular is all about the phones, her busted wall phone and his high-tech model and the beauty of the movie is that it works every angel of cell-phone technology. Calls that bleed into other calls, the danger of losing a call when you enter a tunnel, low batteries, video features and ringers that go off at the worst times are all featured. They’re all here even the witty end credits involve cell phones and the movie gets mileage out of the idea that, with cell phones spreading like viruses, they are helpful and irritating in about equal measure.

As Cellular makes fun of the tyranny of the mobile, it’s almost as if it’s making fun of the craziness of its own premise. Toward the middle, as Evans races all over L.A., the movie loses track of its claustrophobic premise. Wouldn’t the bad guys tie up Basinger when they leave their hideout? Wouldn’t she try to escape? And does everyone in the film have to be so relentlessly good-looking?

But writer Larry Cohen and director David R. Ellis dole out information so expertly, telling us what we need to know exactly when we need to know it, that every time the goofiness of the premise yanks us out of the movie, its simplicity lures us back in. Who hasn’t felt like Evans, suspicious of a call from a stranger? Who doesn’t wonder if, given the chance, you’d be a good Samaritan? Who hasn’t gotten a wrong number and wondered what the caller’s story was?

It’s easy to put yourself in Evans’ shoes. The fun of the movie is watching him and wondering if you’d be equally resourceful if you were ever pulled into a crazy situation simply because, as he says, “I just answered my phone.”


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