A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated R for violence and language
Starring: Colin Farrell, Katie Holmes, Forrest Whittaker, Kiefer Sutherland
Directed By:Joel Schumacher
Every human being on the face of the planet puts up a façade in life. Sometimes the situation depends on it. There have been many times, I have had to “become” someone different in my life. I have been accused of acting as an arrogant jerk by some co-workers, even though it’s the exact opposite of what I want to do. But I agree with them, I am jerk at times. But you only do it to get results. All of you are just as guilty as me, or any other person on the face of the earth. At some point in your life, you’ve lied to save your own skin, you’ve pretended to be someone you’re to get that cute guy/girl’s attention, or you’ve simply just put on a smile when deep down inside you are in pain. But what if you had to give up your façade and confess your inner self to everyone? Could you do it? If you answered no, what if you had a sniper rifle pointed at your head? Could you do it now? That’s what I thought.
Phone Booth made it’s way to the box offices this weekend, after month’s of being delayed due to the real life sniper attacks that were going on around it’s original release date. After getting pushed back, and pushed back the film was finally given an April 4th release date.
Phone Booth is the story of Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell), an arrogant, cocky, lying, and deceitful publicist. His lying and deceitful ways carried over into his personal life, as well when he falls for a young actress named Pam (Katie Holmes). But when a trained sniper who wants to teach Stu a lesson traps him in a phone booth, Stu has to confess the truth to his wife, and to Pam or else he will be killed. But the task is not simple since the story gets media attention, and Stu must confess this to the entire city, without leaving the Phone Booth or hanging up the phone to avoid the sniper’s bullet.
The plot is simple enough. I’ve almost given away too much, because there isn’t much more to this film. The movie has a fairly short runtime, but despite the lack of plot, it tries to hammer home a message that sometimes the truth is the hardest to tell, and that if you are nice to other people, the favor will be returned. The message was a little vague, the story a little too cookie cutter, but the story kept you involved the entire way through.
Colin Farrell (Stu) does a wonderful job, in a role that provides us so little to work with. He delivers a lot of emotion to the character, something that is important to the plot. He can naturally pull of the arrogant, cocky character, and can still hit it home with some actual emotional acting as well. Farrell is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s rising stars, and there is no doubt in my mind that he deserves every bit of the fame that he gets. The man is a gifted actor, and brings a lot of spark to the big screen, and it will be fun to continue to watch his career grow over the next few years. On the downside, the lovely Katie Holmes, wasn’t in the movie enough to make an impact, though her pretty face was in enough scenes that it was a few minutes of visual pleasure. On the other hand, Forrest Whittaker was in the film as well, playing the Police Chief that is trying to coax Farrell out the phone booth, not knowing that Farrell will be shot if he leaves it. Whittaker is not a bad actor, but he just isn’t prime in this flick. His character comes off as more of a sitcom police chief rather than the real thing. We could have cast Chief Wigam from the Simpsons and got the same overall effect. The assassin, although he is never really seen, has the voice of Kiefer Sutherland. Sutherland’s voice as the assassin is wonderful, both soothing and eerie at the exact same time. You couldn’t help but get into the movie at least for a while, just because of Sutherland’s mysterious omnipotent voice from above.
Cinematically, the film was not a visual success but it wasn’t a huge letdown either. It had a little too much of a “Hollywood feel” to it, which kind of took away from the film. A little grittier, hard-nosed feel to it, in my opinion may have made it a little more visually enhancing. The film also used some of the Split screen techniques that have been used multiple times by directors, especially Brian De Palma. Overall, it wasn’t the greatest cinematography, but it could have been far worse.
The problems with Phone Booth are basically that the movie just lacked something. That something being a strong plot and a decent ending. The ending, although it was supposed to be a twist more of a over predictable letdown. In fact, the ending of the film seemed like it came from the “big book of wannabe Hollywood twist endings.” If that doesn’t make sense, let’s put it this way. It seemed like the ending twist was added from a recycled plot idea from wannabe suspense films.
Despite it’s flaws, which there are many Phone Booth was overall an entertaining suspense flick. Sure the plot is pointless, and it’s hard to feel for Colin Farrell’s character, since his arrogant jerk attitude is one that most human beings wouldn’t really mind seeing with a bullet in him anyway. But Phone Booth in the end is entertaining, and that is what most audiences want to be: entertained.