Cellular is a stupid movie.  But the paces moves so quickly, and there is just enough plausibility, that the movie gets away with being a slick, popcorn film.  It's a film that relies on a gimmick - the cell phone.  They are ubiquitous in society today.  And what if somebody were to get a phone life or death phone call from a stranger, and they were the only person that could help?  If this premise sounds similar to Phone Booth, it should.  Larry Cohen (Misbegotten) wrote the latter and has story credit on this one.    It is by no means a good movie, but it is trashy fun that would belong more in the middle of the summer than the fall.  It all starts when Ryan (Chris Evans, The Perfect Score, Not Another Teen Movie) gets a call on a cell phone from Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger, The Door in the Floor, 8 Mile).  Jessica claims that she is the victim of a kidnapping, and that Ryan is the only person that can help.

Ryan is not much for responsibility.  How does the viewer know this?  Because director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Homeward Bound II) and screenwriter Chris Morgan not so subtly tell them so by having his ex-girlfriend chastise him at the beginning for being irresponsible, lazy, and unreliable.  So of course Ryan initially thinks it's a joke, and of course, over the course of the film he will grow up and do something right for one.  The main kidnapper (Jason Statham, Collateral, The Italian Job) holed Jessica up into an attic, and smashed the phone.  Still, she's a high school science teacher, so she started crossing wires until she reached Ryan.  She's afraid to hang up because she may not get another connection.  Ryan agrees to take his phone to the police department, where he meets Sgt. Mooney (William H. Macy, Spartan, The Cooler), who brushes him off.  Then, he hears Jessica conversing with the kidnapper, and him threatening her, and actually believes her.

The bulk of Cellular consists of Ryan racing from location to location trying to get somewhere before the kidnappers do.  He has to rescue Jessica's son, try to reach her husband, steal cars, and deal with crossed phone lines and dying batteries.  On the whole, the entire thing is pretty ridiculous, but the plotting is taut and methodical.  The most impressive aspect of Cellular is that Cohen and Morgan came up with a plot where all the key elements fall into place.  The reason why Jessica was kidnapped is eventually revealed, and it makes sense.  All the necessary pieces of the puzzle, however improbable they may be, fit into place.  The third act, when the cars are chasing and the guns blazing does break out of the one and make the film all the more corny, but oh well.

The aspects that detract from the film are the fact that the characters are not doing what they should.  Ryan knows that his phone can store numbers, so he should just hang up, go to the police, and have them trace the number.  The kidnappers should just drug Jessica, or tie her up and gag her to keep her where they can see her instead of throwing her in an attic.  These little mistakes increase as the movie continues.  The events happen more or less in real time which adds a sense of urgency, and it is this sense that propels the film forwarding, letting people forget about these little mishaps.  Evans is not much of a lead actor, and all Cellular requires of Basinger to do is cry.  Macy is the person to watch here.  To let people catch their breath, Cellular will often switch away from Jessica and Ryan, and go to Mooney, who is a bored desk cop.  Some things don’t add up in Ryan's story, so he begins to investigate.  It's a great, often funny performance from Macy, which is a nice complement to the craziness that surrounds it.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, terror situations, language, and some sexual references.

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