Phone Booth is one of those movies that must capture your attention immediately. In its entire 90-something minutes, you are locked in a single phone booth in New York City...not much change of scenery or characters could leave the plot dead. Fortunately, the film does capture your attention instantly and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.
Stu Shepard (Colin Ferrall) is a smooth-talking, self-centered publicist, always on his cell phone wheeling and dealing his clients. It is safe to say that Stu is not a perfect person. On top of his ego and selfish nature, he is also thinking about having an affair with Pam (Katie Holmes) one of his clients. Stu's wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) has absolutely no idea of Stu's daily unfaithfulness, because instead of using his cell phone he makes sure to use the same phone booth to call Pam.
After his daily phone call to Pam, Stu is about to leave the phone booth when it rings. Of course, a ringing phone must be answered! A mysterious voice (Kiefer Sutherland) is on the other end, threatening Stu's life if he puts the phone down. At first he thinks it is a joke, but the mysterious caller knows the intimate details of his life and proves his ability by sniping someone near the phone booth. Unable to figure out how to get out of the suddenly tense situation, Stu is stuck in this phone booth, dealing with "female escorts," pimps, Kelly and Pam, and finally Captain Ed Ramey (Forest Whitaker) and the entire police force, who all believe he is the dangerous one with a gun.
Stu and the caller argue and yell as the caller reveals details about Stu's life that only Stu knows about. As Stu realizes that the caller has an agenda of punishing corrupt people, he figures that to save himself, his wife, and even the police force, he has to listen to the demands of the caller and reveal his sins to the whole world, in the attempt to outsmart the sniper at his own game.
Director Joel Schumacher takes a bold and risky step into the making of Phone Booth. Shooting the entire film in 12 days is an undertaking on it's own. Considering that the entire movie is shot inside a phone booth and can still be entertaining is incredible as well. As Stu begins to go through his tribulations, the plot plays out very nicely. Kiefer's voice is very menacing, evil, and even a little crazy, which help draw us into the movie and move the story along nicely.
One thing that really stood out to me was the grittiness to Phone Booth. There is grain, but it doesn't come off as a bad thing. I actually really enjoyed the grain, it really helps the flow of the movie and gives it the quick-and-dirty feel that Joel Schumacher had intended to. The transfer throughout is very good; it is consistent and has extremely high detail. The wide shots of New York are awesome; every car on the street is seen and looks like you are actually there. The greatest part about it is that all of that detail translates to the phone booth scenes and they look just as spectacular. The only time that I noticed something was one or two times there was a little too much contrast, but it was for such a brief time it doesn't affect the overall quality.
5.1 DTS HD Lossless and 5.1 Dolby Digital. Phone Booth would seem like a film that most sound guys would just pass up and give it a decent, but dull, track. Thankfully, Phone Booth doesn't disappoint. Although the movie is mainly dialogue, we are given the treatment like it is more an action movie. The surrounds sound great, and dialogue hits you right where it is supposed to. Like the video, the track is very consistent throughout.
Another great thing about Phone Booth is the score. Harry Gregson Williams gives us an incredible score that continually pushes us to the next level, as if we are riding on Stu's emotions right along with him.
Commentary: Joel Schumocker gives us a very witty commentary track. I had a blast listening to Joel as he began his commentary, pointing out the obvious and laughing with us. He jumps right into establishing Colin's character, the choice of casting him, other character choices, and how they perform. As he continues on with his commentary, it starts to slow down and he almost seems to lose interest at times. We learn about the concept of shooting entirely in a phone booth, and how they shot with 4-5 cameras at all times to make sure that they got the shot and had all the footage they needed in the 12 days of shooting. One cool thing that I enjoyed was hearing about how they shot with natural light, and also shooting in real-time. Overall, not to much here that is really worth the 90 something minute listen.
Phone Booth is edgy, fast-paced, and a great attention grabber. I really enjoyed everything about this movie. I loved the fact that a movie centered on one tiny space could grab my attention so well. Colin Ferrall does a great job acting and his supporting cast is really great. Forrest Whitaker does an incredible job and Kiefer Sutherland's voice is truly mesmerizing. The video quality definitely helps Phone Booth succeed with its gritty style. Along with an outstanding score, and good sound, Phone Booth is definitely worth the watch. I can recommend this one to almost anyone.