*** (out of 5)
September 10, 2004
Kim Basinger as JESSICA MARTIN
Chris Evans as RYAN
William H. Macy as MOONEY
Jason Statham as GREER
Richard Burgi as CRAIG MARTIN
Jessica Biel as CHLOE
Eric Christian Olsen as CHAD
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: David R. Ellis
BY KEVIN CARR
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Sometimes a movie has a premise that seems so silly that you’d never think it’s actually be any good. This was my first impression of “Cellular.” It seemed to be such a stretch – not to mention the fact that I didn’t think anyone could realistically sustain a person on a cell phone for 90 minutes.
However, after I saw “Cellular” and was asked by family and friends what I thought of it, I found myself in every case replying, “It was better than I thought it would be.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that this is a great movie by far. It also doesn’t mean that anyone will or should remember this flick come Oscar time. What it means is that it was a decent way to spend some time. There were some parts of the movie that were really hard to swallow, and others that presented cliches on top of cliches. But all in all, I didn’t find my self bored in the film.
“Cellular” tells the story of Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), who gets kidnapped by a group of mysterious men demanding to know where “it” is. Of course, Jessica has no idea what they’re talking about and insists that they have gone after the wrong family. She is locked in an attic, which has a phone in it. But the main bad guy (Jason Statham) shatters the phone with a sledgehammer before she can make a call.
But these bad guys are failures on many levels. They can’t even disable a simple phone. The unit still is able to function – barely – and Jessica is able to make an outgoing call to a random number. That number belongs to the cell phone of a twentysomething slacker named Ryan (Chris Evans) who spends his time admiring girls in bikinis on the Santa Monica pier. However, when he hears the kidnapped Jessica on the other end of the line, he tries to help her and is swept up into the whole mess along the way.
First, I want to dispel the possible misconception that this guy drives all over L.A. with a single cell phone signal. If you know the geography of L.A., it actually could work. The area he covers is only from Santa Monica to Brentwood, which are relatively close. Now, if he had to drive over the Hollywood Hills or traverse Topenga Canyon, that’d be a different story.
Of course, you’ll need to suspend more disbelief than normal in this film. For example, don’t ask yourself why this guy never stops at a pay phone to call 911. Let’s just say that this option is conveniently forgotten about in the script.
Overall, the story moves and has some genuinely tense moments. The acting is decent, mostly supported by William H. Macy as a cop who is trying to help find Jessica. Jason Statham, whom most will recognize as one of Guy Ritchie’s common casting choices, does a fine job as the bad guy. Kim Basinger, who is the centerpiece of the film, is competent. However, she still seems to be flying high off her undeserved Oscar win for “L.A. Confidential” and continues her fantasy that she can actually be a dramatic actress. Too much of her whining and panting over the phone kept me longing for the days of “9 1/2 Weeks” and “Never Say Never Again” when she just accepted the fact that she was just another pretty face.
Chris Evans is decent as a lead, but doesn’t quite have the leading man material. He’s kind of like a retread of Josh Lucas, a good looking guy who can carry a film but probably won’t make a career out of it.
“Cellular” can be a fun movie, again taken without much thought. Be prepared for some insane cliches. I’d tell you some of them, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the plot for the seven or eight people out of there that might be surprised when these plot twists reveal themselves.
“Cellular” joins a list of movies like “Alien vs. Predator,” “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” and “The Punisher” that had such potential to stink but actually turned out to be a nice piece of mindless entertainment.