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Cellular (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted/alternate scenes with optional director commentary. Commentary with director David Ellis and writers Larry Cohen and Chris Morgan. Featurette 'Celling Out' – a look at cellphones in today’s culture. Featurette 'Dialing Up Cellular' – making of the film. Featurette 'Code of Silence: Inside the Rampart Scandel'. Theatrical trailer.

PLAUSIBILITY has very little to do with the high-concept action thriller, Cellular, but for all of its failings, the film still makes a very strong connection with audiences.

Chris Evans stars as unlikely hero, Ryan, a 'self-centred' beach boy who would rather try and patch things up with his girlfriend than contemplate any of life's bigger challenges.

Yet, when he inadvertently answers a random phone call on his cellular, he finds himself thrust into a life and death struggle that he is ill-equipped to deal with.

The caller in question is Kim Basinger's science teacher, Jessica Martin, who has been kidnapped by Jason Statham's gang of thugs, and who has managed to call out by pieceing together the smashed remains of a phone in the room she is being held.

Needless to say, Ryan is reluctant to believe her, let alone help, but gradually comes to realise the magnitude of what he is being asked and goes to the police.

Despite receiving a sympathetic ear from William H Macy's retiring officer, Mooney, however, Ryan's attempts to get the police to help prove fruitless, and he is forced to run about the city attempting to help Jessica in whatever way he can.

This involves dashing to Jessica's son's school, in a bid to prevent him from being kidnapped, and then to the airport, to prevent the same fate befalling her husband, which makes him as big a target for the police's attentions as the kidnappers themselves.

An unlikely source of help is at hand, however, in the form of Office Mooney, who feels compelled to investigate the kidnap claim, even though he is supposed to be helping his wife set up the day spa they are hoping to retire to.

As unlikely and improbable as this whole premise sounds, the joy of watching Cellular comes from seeing just how increasingly absurd proceedings become.

Ryan must keep Jessica on the phone at all times, no matter how desperate his own plight becomes, and is forced to hold up mobile phone shops at gunpoint, and car-jack rich, mouthy lawyers, the more desperate he becomes to help.

Yet the film always realises its own limitations and frequently tosses in plenty of laughs, while maintaining the tension throughout.

Evans makes an engaging hero, who consistently remains one step behind the kidnappers in spite of his best efforts, while Basinger makes a believable transition from terrified victim to brave fighter, who refuses to give in to her captors.

But it is William H Macy who makes the biggest impression, trading well on his unlikely action hero persona, and turning what could have been a fairly hum-drum role into another personal tour-de-force.

Former stunt-man turned director, David R Ellis, competently handles the action sequences, too, tossing in plenty of car chases, gun battles and explosions to keep things lively.

Like Phone Booth and Speed before it, Cellular stretches its flimsy premise to breaking point, but does so in such an entertaining fashion that you should be having too much fun to notice.

And, as Friday night popcorn fare goes, it probably rates as one of the best examples of its kind. So forget any hang-ups you may have about the premise and indulge yourself.

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