Cellular (PG-13) ★★½

Review Date: September 10th, 2004

Cellular has enough thrills to keep you hooked, provided you suspend your disbelief for 92 minutes--a hard feat, considering all the ludicrous curves it throws at you.


Bratty teen hunk Ryan (Chris Evans) gets a call on his cell phone from a desperate woman named Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) who claims she has been kidnapped. All she asks of Ryan is that he not hang up and instead hand his cell phone over to a police officer. If that plan worked, however, there wouldn't be a movie or a chain of highly improbable events. So when a horde of angry skinheads swarms the nearby police station and interrupts Ryan's meeting with Officer Mooney (William H. Macy), the young brash hero determines he is Jessica's only hope for survival. But the only thing Jessica knows for sure is that she's being held in an attic--she has no idea where. What is clear is that Jessica's husband, a real estate agent, has something her kidnapper Greer (Jason Statham) wants, and with the help of his cronies, is willing to kill for it. Jessica sends Ryan to her 9-year-old son's school and then find to her husband in a desperate bid to save her family. Poor Ryan has no idea what he's up against--until he discovers what it is the kidnappers are after.


Veteran actress Basinger does a wonderful job portraying her rich Brentwood, Calif., persona Jessica, made up like a department store cosmetics rep, complete with a superbly preppy wardrobe. Perhaps this spotless representation of the quintessential nouveau riche woman explains why Jessica's character stays so unperturbed under pressure: With her perfectly manicured hands, she coolly reconnects wires from a shattered telephone to dial out, and in an even keeled voice manages to instruct a total stranger on the whereabouts of her family. But about halfway through the movie, her voice will start to grate on you. Evans, meanwhile, effortlessly carries the film as Ryan, an impetuous womanizer who gives up an afternoon at the beach with hottie Chloe (Jessica Biel) to be help a stranger in need. Evans peppered his otherwise overly heroic performance with humor. He hijacks a Porsche because he has too, for example, but has a good time testing the car's superior handling skills in the process. Other good performances are also squeezed out of Statham, who assumes the role of the deadly-weapon character Greer, and Macy as the compassionate cop.


Helmer David Richard Ellis has a short resume as a director, with the 2003 thriller Final Destination 2 being first feature, but his work as 2nd unit director on films such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Perfect Storm and The Patriot attests to his flair for action and suspense. Cellular definitely has those elements. As moviegoers, we are as perplexed as Jessica as to what these kidnappers want with her. And Ellis makes sure to throw a few twists into the plot to keep it from unfolding to quickly. But for the story to sweep you away, you have too believe it can happen, which is the film's biggest hurdle; Lawrence Cohen's script (polished by scribes Eric Bress and J Mackye Gruber) is loaded with implausible instances. Take, for example, the many fight scenes in which the villain could have easily killed the protagonist but decides instead to vent, rehashing the plot at the same time. It's hard to suspend your disbelief when silly scenes like these jar you back to reality.

Bottom Line

If you allow yourself to be carried away, Cellular is a suspenseful and fast-moving pic, devoid of melodrama and drawn-out chase scenes. But think about too much and it breaks up like a bad connection.