Kim Basinger and Chris Evans star in a formulaic but fun mobile-phone thriller

Director: David R. Ellis

Starring: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy

Website: http://www.cellularthemovie.com/

Plot Summary: A random wrong number on his cell phone sends a young man into a high-stakes race against time to save a woman's life.

With no knowledge of Jessica Martin (Basinger) other than her voice on the other end of the tenuous cell phone connection, Ryan (Evans) is quickly thrown into a world of deception and murder on his frantic search to find and save her. Jessica's life is in his hands, but what's waiting for him on the other side of the line, and what will it cost him to find out?

Review: Bringing together an unlikely cast, the director of Final Destination 2 and Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, and a storyline that, on paper at least, has rather too much in common with the same writer's Phone Booth script, Cellular has no right to succeed.

But while the movie is formulaic and far-fetched, it's also surprisingly enjoyable.

Cellular is Phone Booth-on-the-move, more or less, but the fast pace that director Ellis sets makes it much easier to forget this, or any of the movie's other obvious influences. (Though it doesn't quite unfold in real time, Cellular owes a clear debt to 24, while Speed and Falling Down are also useful reference points.)

Formerly a professional surfer, Ellis's film background is mainly in stuntwork, so it's little surprise that the movie's many action scenes and chase sequences work well.

What's most impressive, though, is how well the director handles a diverse cast. Nobody's going to win an Oscar for Cellular, but the performances throughout are credible enough.

Chris Evans - the American actor rather than the British DJ - is a relative unknown but, though he never sets the screen alight here, his good looks and unassuming likeability all strongly suggest that he's a star in the making.

In the film's other major role, Kim Basinger still looks a little too glamorous to be a science teacher but she brings a combination of vulnerability and strength to a role that could easily have been played as a wailing victim.

The film also benefits from the contributions of some dependable character actors.

William H. Macy plays perfectly to type as Sergeant Mooney, a decent but downtrodden cop, complemented well by Noah Emmerich - an actor who never seems to choose a bad movie - as Mooney's slippery superior officer, Jack Tanner.

The main bad guy role falls to Cockney hard man Jason Statham, whose sense of menace is only slightly undercut by a dubious American accent. (He's from LA, innit?)

On one level, Cellular isn't much more than the most expensive Nokia commercial ever assembled, but if you're happy to put your brain on hold for an hour-and-a-half, you'll be entertained.

PTV Rating: 3 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, November 11th, 2004
Czech Title: Cellular
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Video on YouTube

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