Cellular

A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:PG-13 for Language, Violence, Car Crashes, and Rock-Hard Nipples
Starring: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy
Directed By: David R. Ellis

Final Grade:

Rising unexpectedly from the ashes of September is Cellular, a thriller that packs intrigue from the school of Hitchcock and car chases from the school of Bruckheimer. Directed by David R. Ellis, who was largely involved in creating the freeway sequence that was clearly the highlight of Warner’s decrepit Matrix sequels, it’s a simple thriller that’s filled to the brim with action, humor, and suspense. And, it’s carried to an even higher enjoyment by a talented cast that’s perfect for the material.

Former bombshell Kim Basinger stars as Jessica Martin, a woman who’s been kidnapped by a ruthless group of thugs (lead by Snatch and The Transporter’s Jason Statham) who want something from her husband that she knows nothing about. Locked in an attic, her only hope for success is a smashed telephone on the floor that thankfully seems to still be producing a dial tone. After putting her high school science teacher skills to work, she manages to dial a number by clicking wires together repeatedly.

The number she gets is a cell phone owned by Ryan, an early 20’s jock who’s kickin’ it at the beach and trying to win back his ex-girlfriend (played in a bit role by Jessica Biel and her gorgeous bottom). He’s the type of guy who doesn’t take much seriously, but the cries of Jessica keep him on the line and convince him to try to get police help from a desk cop with an algae fetish (the incomparable William H. Macy). The two men are intrigued, and the game of survival is set.

Cellular unfolds piece by piece with great ease. Larry Cohen, previously responsible for the more confined film Phone Booth, has put together a tightly knit story, and screenwriter Chris Morgan seems to push all the right buttons, especially with some comedic drop ins. Ryan’s exploits, ranging from one end of Los Angeles to the other, are each action packed and yet remain believable. The chase scenes are surrounded by hilarious moments and side characters (most notably a lawyer whose Porsche Ryan is forced to steal…twice) that make the film a brisk and enjoyable one in every minute of screentime.

The real story here is Chris Evans as Ryan. Breaking out after roles in teen comedies like The Perfect Score, Evans is likable and more than adequate in the role, holding his own against the acting chops of Macy, Statham, and Basinger. Evans, at only 23, seems to be ready to carry a Hollywood film on his own, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bursting at the seams to see him in his next big role as Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four. Though he doesn’t appear destined for Academy Awards, it’s refreshing to see a young face that’s likable in the days of Paul Walker and Leo Dicaprio.

Cellular is not without failing points, but it easily makes up for them as a purely entertaining popcorn flick. Like last year’s The Italian Job remake, this is an action/thriller that never aspires to be any more than that, and thus succeeds in being one of the most entertaining films of the season. If you’re looking for a good time at the movies that works on every level Hollywood loves to offer, you won’t find much better than Cellular at this time of year.

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