Larry Cohen penned the screenplay for Cellular when he was striving to sell his script for Phone Booth to Hollywood studios. He soon aborted it as his friends told him they were too alike, yet contrary to Phone Booth – which concerns a man unable to drop the phone in a phone booth in New York – Cellular actually focuses on the one indispensable gadget that practically every Western citizen owns.
Kim Basinger plays Jessica Martin, a science teacher who lives in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles with her husband and child. Her middle-class life is turned upside down when a group of men, lead by Greer (Jason Statham), break into her house, kill her maid, then kidnap her and hold her captive in a gritty attic. Luckily, Jessica manages to hotwire a broken phone which Greer smashed in front of her and dials a completely random number.
The tenuous call is answered by Ryan (Chris Evans), who at first naturally assumes it is hoax but soon becomes convinced that Jessica is truthful when he overhears Greer threatening her. It becomes a tense ride as the fragile line between Jessica and Ryan is the only single connection she has with the outside world that will prove the fate of her own, her family’s and even Ryan’s life.
In theory, this elaborate story cooked by Larry Cohen actually sounds intriguing but on celluloid it shows itself up and becomes totally preposterous. Chris Morgan’s badly written script is infested with misplaced humour and hammy one-liners that are totally uncalled for in a film whose promotion and marketing campaigns purport it to be a serious psychological thriller.
The acting is just about suitable for a straight to video rental as the only person to come out of it looking like a professional thespian is the always reliable William H. Macy who plays Mooney, a veteran uniformed cop.
Mooney is brought into the equation as Ryan goes to the police station asking for help but as a consequence of being referred to another department and a low signal on his cell phone in the police building, Ryan leaves and does it alone. Mooney later becomes an integral facet as the story unfolds to its gripping showdown conclusion.
Even Kim Basinger, despite a few emotional scenes with her son, fails to carry the hefty weight of the film admirably. Oddly enough, throughout the picture her melodramatic performance develops into an annoying and over-done piece of acting.
The recently dumped Brit actor, Jason Statham succeeds in being perfectly out of depth with a frankly bizarre and totally implacable American accent – he delivers more beef than brain as the menacing main villain. Chris Evans (no, not that one) is equally irritating with more bad lines than a Jim Davidson sketch.
Despite some anxious moments and a taut car chase, it is very easy to pick at the mistakes and acts of folly in David Ellis’ film. It is concocted from a long list of unimaginable acts of coincidence and fate which render Cellular a completely ludicrous film – this is one number you should avoid ringing.