Writer Larry Cohen teamed up with director Joel Schumacher to pull out a moderate hit in "Phone Booth", an effective thriller that took place largely within a telephone booth in New York City in the span of a day. This time around, Cohen has built yet another movie around the use of a phone - "Cellular" starts off with Jessica (Kim Basinger) walking her son, Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon) off to the bus stop. When she returns home, a group of criminals break into her home and kidnap her. The odd thing is that she's no one special - an average housewife with an average husband who makes an average wage.
Once she's locked away by Greer (Jason Statham), she tries to assemble a broken phone that's nearby in the attic. She ends up calling Ryan (Chris Evans), a twenty-something who has just unsuccessfully attempted to break-up with his girlfriend (Jessica Biel, making a cameo). He's driving along when he gets a call from Jessica, attempting to convince him that she's for real and not just a friend making a prank call. He drives to the local police and hands the phone to Mooney (William H. Macy), who listens and then gets his attention taken away when a group of thugs gets into a fight.
When it's realized that the criminals are going to try to go after Jessica's son, Ryan tries to rescue him. This leads to ridiculous scenes, such as Ryan holding up a cell phone store for a charger and driving against traffic on a highway. To believe that this kid would suddenly turn into an action hero just doesn't work, and the contrivances that keep Ryan from getting to the police are just too much to buy. The film has every cell phone issue to throw at the audience - crossed lines, static and calls going out of range. While it's understandable that these things would come into play, they often seem too convienient here.
Still, "Cellular" throws action fast enough at the audience to keep things moving with a pretty solid pace, while the twist of why Jessica has been kidnapped in the first place keeps the interest held. The picture is one of those rare instances where it could, would and did throw every absurd twist out, yet it remained enjoyable and I was able to suspend disbelief. The performances weren't anyone's best, but Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy and Jason Statham were all quite good. "Cellular" is no prize winner, but it's a nicely done nail-biter that works considerably better than it should have.
VIDEO: "Cellular" is presented by New Line in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is perfectly solid, if not *quite* flawless. The only concerns I spotted were some minor shimmering in a few scenes, as well as a couple of brief traces of edge enhancement. No pixelation was noticed, and the print appeared to be in tip-top condition, with no specks, marks or other faults. Colors remained bright and vivid, with nice saturation and smearing. Sharpness and detail remained perfectly fine, with nice small object detail and definition that was largely consistent.
SOUND: "Cellular" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by New Line. The film's audio track is surprisingly good - for a movie that doesn't always have great opportunities for surround use, the film still manages to throw in a fair amount of rear speaker use for ambience and distinct, discrete sound effects, such as gunfire and highway action. Audio quality is excellent, as the film boasts strong bass and very clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: A commentary is included with the main participants being director David Ellis, associate producer Tawny Ellis and stunt coordinator Annie Ellis. "Calling Out" is a 19-minute look at the "cellular"-heavy world that we live in (it seems like phone stores are just starting to challenge coffee shops as an "every corner" stape). "Dialing Up Cellular" is a 25-minute look at the making of the picture. As with most New Line extras, both the main supplements are very well-done, focusing on the production at hand and keeping away from any sort of promotional "happy talk".
Rounding out the supplemental section are a featurette about a real story related to the movie, the film's theatrical trailer, promos for other titles from New Line and a set of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending. The deleted scenes are offered up with audio commentary.
Final Thoughts: "Cellular" requires some pretty heavy suspension of disbelief, but it's paced and structured well, resulting in some effective thrills. New Line's DVD offers up very good audio/video quality, along with a fine helping of supplements. A definite renter.