Phone Booth (2002) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Publicist Stuart Shepard finds himself trapped in a phone booth, pinned down by an extortionist's sniper rifle. Unable to leave or receive outside help, Stuart's negotiation with the caller leads to a jaw-dropping climax.

  • Stu Shepard is a fast talking and wise cracking New York City publicist who gets out of trouble and lies with his clever charm, connections, and charisma. Stu's greatest lie is to his wife Kelly, who he is cheating on with his girlfriend, Pam. Upon answering a call in a phone booth in belief it is Pam, Stu is on the line with a dangerous yet intelligent psychopath with a sniper rifle. When realizing it is not a joke, Stu is placed in a powerful mind game of wits and corruption. The New York City Police eventually arrive thereafter and demand Stu comes out of the phone booth- but how can he when if he hangs up or leaves the booth he will die?

  • Stu Shepard is an arrogant publicist who thinks he has the whole world in his hands. Every day he uses the same phone booth to call the woman he is cheating on his wife with. But on the last day, before this particular phone booth is demolished, the phone rings. Stu naturally answers the phone, only to find the caller on the end is an invisible sniper who knows everything on Stu, including his relationships. The caller now has Stu as his hostage, who demands he comes clean with his wife.

  • After answering a phone call, a dishonest and arrogant N.Y. publicist finds himself trapped in a phone booth and being held hostage by a mysterious but dangerous blackmailer sniper, who demands him to admit his dishonest attitudes with his wife and with the people of his day-to-day.

  • Stuart hasn't been totally honest. In fact, he's about the most dishonest man you'll meet. Everyday, at the same time, he goes to a phone booth in NYC to call his girlfriend, so that his wife can't trace the phone call. Today is no longer just an ordinary day. Now, someone's calling him, leaving his life on the line.

  • A fiendish publicist finds himself being held hostage in a phone booth by an extreme moralist who watches his victim's every move through the scope of his high-power sniper rifle, while speaking to the publicist via the phone booth. The caller prides himself on using force to punish corrupt people by forcing them to admit all of their lies and sins through mental games, or killing them. At the same time, he eliminates other people as well; everyday people who are guilty of brutal dishonesty and/or corruption, such as a murderous street pimp and a pushy pizza man (all of which, if you look hard enough in the film, have a guilt link). The caller himself is corrupt, and uses it defeat other corruption. It is evil fighting evil in the phone booth.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is an arrogant New York City publicist who is contemplating cheating on his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell). He calls Pam (Katie Holmes), a young actress, from a phone booth on a side street. When a delivery man (Dell Yount) tries to deliver a free pizza to the booth, Stu rudely dismisses him. After the phone call with Pam, the phone rings and Stu answers it. The caller (voice of Kiefer Sutherland), says that Stu should have accepted the pizza as it would have "kept his strength up for what comes next". He warns Stu not to leave the booth. Stu, again dismissive, is skeptical toward the mystery caller. The caller says that he will say 'hi' to Kelly for him, then hangs up, leaving Stu visibly concerned.

    The unseen man calls back and reveals that he had previously setup two other dishonest individuals in a similar situation, where he gave them a chance to redeem themselves but since both refused he had to kill them. One was a pedophile, and the other was a business executive who used inside information to cash in his stock options before the company share price collapsed (and refused the caller's request to share the proceeds with regular investors who got burned on that stock). The caller tells Stu that he must tell Kelly and Pam the truth: that he is cheating. The man calls Pam, puts Stu on speakerphone, and he tells her that Stu is married and does not want anything with Pam except to sleep with her. He then tells Stu to call his wife and tell her the truth, or else he will. Angrily, Stu does so.

    Before he has a chance to tell Kelly the truth, Stu is distracted by three prostitutes who want to use the phone. The prostitutes become hostile due to Stu's refusal to leave the booth, and they start banging against the glass. Stu becomes agitated and finally hangs up on his wife and yells at the prostitutes to leave him alone. As the three girls leave, the man calls and warns Stu that if he hangs up again, he will shoot him. Stu does not believe him but is convinced when the man cocks his rifle. Stu gets scared, warning him that if he shoots, the cops will arrive. However, the sniper proves him to be wrong by shooting a toy robot next to the booth without anyone noticing. The caller continues to mock Stu's faith that the caller is not capable.

    The situation escalates further when the prostitutes and their pimp, Leon (John Enos III), approach the booth and demand that Stu leave. Terrified that he will be shot, Stu refuses. The impasse between Stu and Leon escalates to the point of Leon breaking into the booth with a bat and attacking Stu. The sniper tells Stu he can help him and Stu says "yes". Leon is shot in the back by the sniper, horrifying the prostitutes, who accuse Stu.

    The police arrive and Stu is instantly the suspect. He doubts that they will find any evidence to suggest his guilt to the murder, but later finds out the sniper has planted a gun in the phone booth's roof, on top of the light panel that could be used as evidence in Leon's murder. Captain Ed Ramey (Forest Whitaker) arrives tries to negotiate with Stu to exit the booth but he says he cannot get off the call and he is talking to his "psychiatrist". Multiple news vans arrive, and reporters begin filming the situation, putting pressure on the police to deal with the situation without appearing trigger-happy. The caller continues to taunt Stu by telling him to take hold of the planted gun, or he would "Blow him (Ramey) Away!" but Stu refuses, knowing the police will likely shoot him.

    Kelly arrives at the scene and the sniper makes Stu confess to her about his infidelity, which Stu does. The man asks Stu to choose between Pam and Kelly, threatening to kill one of them to eliminate further temptation. The unseen caller tells Stu that there are policemen right now trying to tap into the call, but will never succeed as the caller has taken precautions to avoid it.

    Stu pleads with the sniper while at the same time using his cell phone to call Kelly, who secretly informs Captain Ramey of the sniper's presence when Ramey hears the conversation. Stu confesses his bad character to the crowd, telling his unpaid assistant, Adam (Keith Nobbs), who looks up to Stu, not to become a publicist and admitting his $2,000 watch is a fake, like himself. Stu explains he grew up in the Bronx and he wanted to put his past behind him by buying expensive clothes. He is also not as rich as he seems. The police finally track down the sniper by tracing the call the sniper made to Kelly, and Ramey tells Stu through a cryptic message that they have done so. Stu informs the sniper that the cops are coming to get him and the now enraged sniper chooses to take Kelly with him, seeing as she is the most important thing in his life. Panicked, Stu takes the planted gun, runs out of the booth and yells, "it's me you want!" Stu is shot and falls down just as police break into a hotel room, discovering a dead body, a phone, and a sniper rifle. It is then revealed that Stu had been hit by a rubber bullet from a police sniper, leaving him relatively unharmed. Kelly runs over and kisses Stu who is still on the ground. The police wheel the body they found in the hotel room down onto the street, and Kelly insists on seeing the sniper's body. Stu identifies the body as the pizza delivery man.

    Stu is recovering under morphine in an ambulance which makes him drowsy. A man carrying a large suitcase walks up to him, and compliments his shoes. The man says that he regrets killing the pizza deliverer and warns Stu that if his newfound honesty does not last, he will be hearing from him again. He walks away and smiles as he passes the phone booth, revealing himself to be the caller. Stu falls unconscious.

    The caller, now the narrator, says, "Isn't it funny? You hear a phone ring, and it could be anybody...but a ringing phone has to be answered, doesn't it?" The view goes from an aerial view of the city way into space with a satellite passing by turning to black with a ring once again, and the film ends with a man answering, "Hello?" The murderous caller has apparently resumed his crusade to rid the world of wrongdoers.

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