Dumb young buck Ryan is “irresponsible, self-
That’s the kind of flick Cellular is: goofily obvious when it isn’t unexpectedly exciting. It’s one of those movies that succeeds partly by not being anywhere near as bad as you were expecting it to be — by being, really, not so bad at all, much to one’s shocked surprise. Seriously, I was anticipating two hours of that annoyingly pseudo-
Cellular is sorta like Open Water in the sense that, if you’ve only heard a quickie summary of the premise — here, kidnapped woman calls dude’s cell phone and asks him to help her — the first thing you think is, That’d never work. Like: Why doesn’t the kidnapped woman just call 911 instead of the random dude? Why doesn’t the random dude just hang up and call 911? And so on. But go see the film, cuz it all makes sense… if you don’t think too much about it. Which you won’t because you get caught up in it instantly, in the anxiety and dread created by what are now everyday occurrences: calls that get dropped when you go into a tunnel, batteries that go dead when you’re on the phone too long. The only scary thing we don’t get to see is Ryan’s face when he gets his phone bill.
If it all sounds like the mirror image of last year’s Phone Booth, well, it is: screenwriter Larry Cohen wrote both films (screenwriter Chris Morgan helped spiff this one up, though Cohen’s original script, from what I hear, had lots more shades of gray and moral ambiguities), and he created Cellular as a deliberate inverse. This new flick isn’t quite as urgently relevant as the first one was, even if it is often quite funny in its sendup of our love of cell phones, but it does cleverly weave Los Angeles’s on-
Who’da thunk Low Signal: The Movie would be so much fun? Chris Evans (The Perfect Score) is wonderfully ingratiating as Ryan, after those initial moments when he’s being that childish dolt. Jason Statham (The Italian Job, Ghosts of Mars) is pretty darn intense as the head kidnapper, like you can believe he might actually do something as un-Hollywood as kill Kim Basinger, and Basinger (The Door in the Floor, 8 Mile) continues to amaze in her mini-