Cellular (2004) 
Theatrical Movie Reviews Theatrical
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Friday, 10 September 2004

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Despite some whopping plot coincidences and improbabilities, “Cellular” turns out to be a winning thriller. Writer Chris Morgan, working from a story by Larry Cohen, and director David R. Ellis handle serve up dire matters with a breakneck pace, yet find time for lots of grace notes, humor and affection for the characters.

There actually turns out to be a perfectly plausible reason why five men break into the Martin home and kidnap wife/mother/science teacher Jessica (Kim Basinger). Jessica really has never seen these guys before in her life and truthfully swears she has no idea what they want with her. Jessica’s kidnapers don’t believe her and swear to snatch her 11-year-old son from school if she won’t aid them. The men lock Jessica in the attic of a strange house, smashing the telephone in the room. However, left alone, Jessica is able to patch the wrecked phone together enough to get the device to blindly dial outward …

The call lands on the cell phone of Ryan (Chris Evans), a young slacker who at first thinks he’s the victim of a practical joke. However, once he understands the woman on the other end of the phone is not only serious but in mortal danger, Ryan does everything he can think of to save her and her family while trying to maintain the cell connection.

“Cellular” has a lot of fun with this last – how and where cell phones will and won’t work leads to improvisation on Ryan’s part, which lets the movie switch things up again and again. Russell does a bang-up job with the action, maintaining a momentum that keeps the questions at bay until the end, and the script really does take the time to explain a great deal on the run. Sound is terrific – the kicking-in of Jessica’s door at the beginning is really shocking and the numerous car crashes and shootouts have depth and impact. John Ottman’s brisk soundtrack is augmented with songs performed by G. Love, Paris Texas, Pitbull, Master P, Nina Simone, Lottery and Special Sauce.

One of “Cellular’s” more appealing aspects is its fondness for the people caught up in the deadly screwiness. Evans makes Ryan an amiable Everyguy who seems like he really can be resourceful if pushed. Basinger makes the most of the fact that Jessica’s very real (and loud) hysteria never prevents her from taking the initiative and William H. Macy, as a police sergeant who gets caught up in the chaos, projects a kind of crabby decency that makes us root for him unconditionally. Jason Statham is coolly menacing as the leader of the kidnapers.

“Cellular” is a fine end-of-summer movie. It’s quick on its feet, with enough twists to make us feel like we’re getting our money’s worth on the thriller aspect and enough good humor to keep us engaged.

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