Cellular Movie Review

When my cell phone rings, before I answer, I always check to see who's calling. If I don't know who it is, I'll likely not accept the call. With airtime at a premium and overage charges through the roof, it just makes good sense. It's also the reason why cell phones include caller ID! But in Cellular, when a random call is accepted, it sets forth a series of events that takes one man on an incredible journey across Los Angeles to save the caller on the other line.

The man is Ryan (Chris Evans), and according to his former girlfriend Chloe (Jessica Biel), he's just an irresponsible and self-centered beach bum - not exactly the person you'd want on the line if your life depended on it. The random call comes from Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a science teacher and mother who's been kidnapped from her Brentwood mansion and is being held hostage in the attic of an abandoned house. While in captivity, a desperate Jessica is miraculously able to splice together some wires from a telephone that is smashed to pieces by her abductor (Jason Statham). Somehow, her resulting call reaches Ryan.

At first, Ryan dismisses her call as a fraud. But, with some persistence, Jessica is able to convince Ryan of her situation and request that he deliver his phone to the nearest police officer. At the local police station, Ryan tries to get the help of veteran Sergeant Mooney (William H. Macy). But when a riot breaks out in the station lobby that diverts Mooney's attention, Ryan assumes sole responsibility for saving the lives of Jessica and her family.

Ryan immediately becomes a vigilante for Jessica's cause. He commandeers vehicles at gunpoint, races through busy Los Angeles intersections causing accidents, and even holds up a wireless accessories store just to bypass a line to buy a phone charger that will keep his cell from dying. Apparently, the total lack of regard for his life and the safety of the others is a worthy price to pay in order to keep a stranger on the other line.

Surprisingly, despite all the chaos he creates, it's easy to get behind Ryan's cause. Unfortunately, Cellular fails fairly miserably as a thriller because we soon learn that any jam Ryan finds himself in will easily get resolved in his favor. Chris Morgan's predictable screenplay, from Larry Cohen's (Phone Booth) story, is riddled with contrivances and conveniences that only exist to further Ryan's sojourn. For instance, one of the vehicles Ryan steals just so happens to have a gun in the glove compartment that allows him to hold-up the cellular store in the very next scene.

Credit the film's underlying sarcasm about our fanatical phone use, and the convincing performances by its competent cast for making Cellular's faults more forgivable. Evans is highly likable as our hero because he presents himself as just an ordinary man thrust into a situation beyond his control. And Macy once again proves his standing as one of our best character actors by transforming an atypical authority figure into someone with quirks, fears, and simple desires.

The DVD includes a commentary track and three featurettes -- one on the 1999 Rampart scandal which loosely inspired this story.

Can you hear me now?

Comments

Cellular Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG-13, 2004

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