Cellular (2004)
Main cast: Chris Evans (Ryan), William H Macy (Mooney), Noah Emmerich (Jack Tanner), Jason Statham (Ethan), Eric Christian Olsen (Chad), Jessica Biel (Chloe), and Kim Basinger (Jessica Martin)
Director: David R Ellis


The casting folks of Cellular must be commended for finding the perfect actors and actresses to play the roles that they are typecasted in. In this thriller, we have the dumb jock, Ryan, played by Chris Evans whose roles as dumb jocks in the past make him a shoo-in for the role. He has two roles in this movie: to get shirtless (hubba, hubba) and to run around looking for batteries to recharge his cell phone. Jason Statham, the menacing bald villain of the brief UK gangster noir renaissance (which died when Guy Ritchie marries Madonna and produced the stillborn offspring known as Swept Away), plays a villain here. William H Macy plays one more time the bumbling and unlikely hero, as if his mainstream roles aren't pretty much that same role played over and over again. As for Noah Emmerich, without delving too much into spoilers, he's pretty much reprising his role in The Truman Show. If the cast isn't playing roles that they can sleepwalk in, the plot is a cliché - a regurgitation of the "surprise twist" of countless crime TV shows and TV movies.

The only difference between those movies and Cellular is that this particularly movie is sleekly produced from a bigger budget and it has Chris Evans running around the screen up and down like he's auditioning for a TV movie produced by Abercrombie and Fitch. In Cellular, it all begins when thugs led by Jason Statham's Ethan breaks into Jessica Martin's house, looking for her son. Jessica has no idea why they want her son and for a long time she insists that they have attacked the wrong house. They understandly don't buy her story and lock her up in some room so that she can repent on her stubborn and uncooperative ways. She manages to get an old cellular device working and calls out in what she hopes to be an SOS call. This call somehow is received by himbo Ryan's cell phone. Ryan is trying to get over his being dumped by his girlfriend Chloe (she thinks that he is too immature and irresponsible) so he doesn't need the trouble of dealing with what he believes to be a prank call. But eventually he realizes that Jessica Martin and her son are really in danger and he starts scrambling first to save her son and later deal with the thugs to rescue her and nab the villain. The fun starts when his cell phone starts to run low on power. By happening to be stumble into the case without really knowing how, the good-natured cop Mooney finds himself having an adventure of his life.

As a gimmick, the use of the cellular phone in this movie manages to provide some genuinely suspenseful moments as well as moments of dark comedy when Ryan tries desperately to keep in contact with Jessica. While the twist is actually predictable and I see it coming a mile away, the way the denouement comes together is actually well-done, coherent, and exciting enough to send me to the edge of my seat. The only drawback is Kim Basinger's annoyingly slow diction in this movie. I understand that she is trying to make sure that Ryan can hear her clearly but Ms Basinger talks like that even when her character is face-to-face with people. It's like Ms Basinger has studied Sigourney Weaver's diction and slows down her own twice as much as Ms Weaver usually does - it's annoying to the extreme listening to her speak twice as slowly as everyone else in this movie. And of course, Chris Evans provides plenty of fine eye candy in this movie.

All in all, Cellular is an entertaining thriller, although it probably has a little too much "TV Movie of the Week" stench lingering on it for its own good.

Rating: 84


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