Cellular (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5.

USA/Germany, 2004.  New Line Cinema, Electric Entertainment, LFG Filmproduktions & Company.  Story by , Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Hollywood genre movies like this are more of an exercise than an actual film experience, but if that is the case then this one is a great day at the gym.  Kim Basinger plays a suburban science teacher (and let’s just say that if MY science teacher looked like her I would be discovering the cure for cancer right now) who is terrified when strange men break into her house, kill her housekeeper and kidnap her. Trapping her in the attic of a strange house, she is further petrified when they destroy the only phone in the room and tell her they are going to go find her son and husband and kill them unless she gives them an object that they won’t name but is completely unknown to her. Noticing that the destroyed phone still has a dial tone, she puts her skills to work and reconnects it, doing her best to get the first available phone connection she can. It rings the number of a beach boy (Chris Evans) who at first thinks it’s a crank but eventually realizes that the voice on the other end of the line is in trouble and he needs to help her. Evans’s willingness to suddenly make his day about saving this woman happens a bit too fast to be credible, but it’s all part of the impressive economy with which director David R. Ellis tells this fun suspense film.  William H. Macy turns in an incongruous performance as the near-retired cop who ends up getting involved in the situation, but the film belongs to two terrific performances in the leads:  Basinger continues to prove them all wrong with her classy work, and Evans is surprisingly strong as the bewildered youngster. Considering the two of them spend the bulk of the film alone with telephones, they get a notable amount of intensity out of their roles and the film wisely relies on them instead of fancy camerawork. Well directed and brilliantly paced, your knuckles will go snow-white by the end of this one.

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