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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/09/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

Despite the occasional suspicion that you’re watching an extended phone advert, Cellular is surprisingly good fun – it’s fast-paced and inventive and even its dodgier moments are hilarious.

As phone-based thrillers go, Cellular would make an excellent double-bill with last year’s Phone Booth. In fact, the two films have a lot more in common than just the obvious, as both films were originated by ‘B’ Movie Genius Larry Cohen, who wrote the screenplay for Phone Booth and the story for Cellular. It’s directed by David R Ellis and he displays the same snappy pace and inventiveness that he brought to Final Destination 2.

Kidnapped By Goons

Kim Basinger plays Jessica Martin, an L.A. housewife and mother who gets kidnapped in the second scene of the film by Phil Mitchell lookalike Jason Statham and his band of goons.

Statham bundles her into an attic and smashes up the phone (who has a phone in their attic?) with a baseball bat, although he has reckoned without Jessica’s high school science teacher skillz and in no time at all she has figured out a way to make random telephone calls by touching wires together.

She manages to get through to good-looking but feckless teenager Ryan (Chris Evans, from The Perfect Score) on his mobile phone and, despite some astonishingly bad acting, convinces him to help her. This leads to an exciting, tension-filled chase across L.A with frequently hilarious results.

Basinger looks like she’s had an industrial strength botox injection, which rather hinders her already limited acting range. Luckily, all she really has to do is simper into the phone a lot, though the scene in which she demonstrates why she’s The World’s Deadliest High School Teacher is extremely amusing and is sure to raise both cheers and laughter.

Evans, on the other hand, is an extremely likeable lead and he’s more than capable of supporting the film, although he probably should have taken lessons in Screen Running.

Statham Not Awful

Given that he’s playing a thug, Statham isn’t nearly as mind-numbingly awful as he usually is and there’s also good support from Noah Emmerich, who always seems to play untrustworthy types. However, William H Macy completely steals the film as Mooney, the close-to-retirement cop who slowly figures it all out – the sight of him slow-mo diving to the ground while firing a gun is worth the price of admission alone and there’s also a good running gag involving his dreams of starting up a day spa.

Despite numerous cheesy moments, the script is both witty and inventive and there are several excellent scenes, with the writers making full use of the mobile-based premise. Highlights include Ryan running around a school full of children yelling the kid’s name (“Ricky Martin! Ricky Martin?”); Ryan’s encounters with an arrogant L.A. lawyer; and Mooney’s inventive use of goldfish as a weapon of distraction.

The only vaguely disconcerting thing about Cellular is the fact that, for obvious reasons, it frequently feels as if you’re watching a (very entertaining) feature-length commercial for The World’s Greatest Mobile Phone, particularly as you’ll almost certainly come out of the movie wanting one yourself. That said, Cellular is a lot of fun and deserves – wait for it - a good reception. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 15/12/2019 01:28

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