Cellular (2004) Review

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Cellular (2004): 5 out of 10: I’m having Falling Down flashbacks again. Cellular resembles that superior 1993 thriller right down to the same locations. (If I see one more shootout on that damn pier.) Cellular, however, is strangely mixed with a collection of those only in Los Angeles crackpots similar to those found in everything from Volcano to Out in Fifty.

The resulting mismatch of tones is one part thriller (Kim Basinger trapped in an attic) one part Speed (Chris Evans driving around L.A.) and one part Randy Newman video.

Credibility (usually important to a thriller) is thrown out early with great force. Kim Basinger shows her kid off to a private Los Angeles Academy (she is a science teacher but surprisingly not at work herself) walks back to her Brentwood home (I’m guessing 2.5 million) greets her live-in maid and is quickly kidnapped. The kidnappers drive off with her in her own Porsche minivan. So when the first thing she says to our hero Chris Evans is “I don’t know why they kidnapped me. We aren’t rich. I’m just a school teacher?”

Well needless to say Sigourney Weaver’s upper west side apartment in Ghostbusters had more credibility. The “it” the kidnappers are after is even sillier. Without giving too much away one wonders why the husband didn’t turn “it” into the nearest television station.

The villains themselves are right out of a rejected script for The Shield. (I didn’t recognize it at the time I originally wrote this review but yes that is Jason Statham as one of the baddies.) The movie has enough action that works to be entertaining for stretches and Kim Basinger does a commendable job with a strangely written role. (Besides her I’m not rich howler she is also saddled with a monologue, right out of the talking killer handbook, where instead of running away after stabbing a man she explains at some length how as a science teacher she knew exactly which artery to cut.)

Lackluster villains, a constantly changing tone, and contrived credibility sink the film at the end, however. Sadly if my High School teacher looked like Kim Basinger and the curriculum consisted of how to steal phone service and stab people (not to mention live like a millionaire on a teacher’s salary) I probably would have ended up at MIT rather than some party school named after a drugstore.

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[…] Cohen is a brilliant idea man. Recently, for example, he is the talent behind both Phone Booth and Cellular. And in the horror department he wrote both the underrated Maniac Cop series and the monster movie […]