A young man receives a call on his cellular phone from a woman who says she's been kidnapped, and thinks she's going to be killed soon, along with her husband and son who the kidnappers have gone after next. The catch? She doesn't know where she is... and his cell phone battery might go dead soon. Written by
Rick Hoffman, who plays the carjacked lawyer, also appeared in "Hostel" the following year. Derek Richardson, who starred in Hostel, also starred with Eric Christian Olsen in Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Olsen plays Chad in this film. See more »
When Jessica exits the car at the end after Ryan beats up the last thug and sees him for the first time, she seems to know right away that it is him. However, Jessica has only talked to Ryan on the phone up to this point, and has no way of knowing what he looks like, thus no way of knowing for sure this is him. See more »
Mom, will you still be a science teacher when I get into high school?
Hmm... You never know. Why?
'Cause I think it'd be kind of weird to have your mom as a teacher.
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The first part of the closing credits show cast and crew names on cellular telephone screens. See more »
I like a movie that takes an idea or a theme or just an amusing gimmick and then runs with it. There is something exhilarating about being able to exhaust the possibilities of an idea without beating the whole thing to death. A great example is GROUNDHOG DAY; just when you think the filmmakers have milked the idea for all it's worth, they take off on a totally new tangent and the film ends up getting better and better. It is a sign that the writer and/or the director are thrilled with the sheer joy of creative exploration. They aren't just playing by the numbers, but are eager to go beyond expectations. This is film-making as a challenging game.
CELLULAR, while not in the same league as GROUNDHOG DAY, is nonetheless a good example of this type of storytelling. This time the linchpin of the story is the cell phone. The filmmakers seem to have made a list of everything that makes cell phones great (emergency use, portability, digital photography, etc.) as well as what makes them a nuisance (ringing at inappropriate times, crossed connections, lost signals, dying batteries, etc.) and incorporated both lists into a story. The trick isn't just to gerryrig the list into a story, but to do so in a coherent and plausible fashion. CELLULAR is a crackerjack piece of storytelling. The storyline is unlikely, but not impossible and it all unfolds at a steady clip that makes any loophole or implausibility fly by so fast that the viewer has little time to raise a question.
Beyond the gimmickry of the storytelling, the film also benefits from being a solid, efficient, no-nonsense piece of film-making. Directed by actor-turned-stuntman-turned-director David R. Ellis, this is an action-packed thriller that knows the value of blending action with humor and character. Without loosing its manic pace, the film nevertheless takes time for puckish humor and character development. As the damsel in distress, the Hitchcockian innocent man sucked into a web of intrigue and the retiring cop facing his one last case, the actors could have been saddled with one-note, cliché characters. But Kim Basinger, Chris Evans and William H. Macy are given ample room to not only act, but to create characters who are, more importantly, smart. They aren't at the mercy of the complicated plot, they are what moves it along.
My one genuine reservation with CELLULAR is that it is destined to become dated so very fast. Technology, the film's driving force, will quickly be its undoing. It brings to mind old episodes of the "Columbo" TV series, where Peter Falk's Lt. Columbo is seen to be in awe of computers and answering machines and video cameras and VCRs, and he has to go into great detail explaining how such gadgets and gizmos work and how they can be used as part of a murder plot. The cutting edge technology of the time now seems so elementary that Columbo's naivete seems rather silly. Yet, the Columbo stories still hold up thanks to clever storytelling and strong characters played by good actors. And from that perspective, CELLULAR just might hold up to be a minor classic, albeit as a period piece.
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