How can you go wrong with a movie with a tagline “If the signal dies so does she?” Director David Ellis’ 2004 film about a phone call that a stranger picks up on his cell phone doesn’t quite hold up with today’s standards, but I easily got sucked in the plot.
Set at the start of the cell phone era, Cellular is dated – which will provide a few chuckles here or there. The film stars a really young Chris Evans (who would go on to be Captain America) as Ryan, a somewhat irresponsible young man who might or might be boyfriend material. Jessica Biel plays his love interest, Chloe – who really doesn’t come into it except to botch things up at the end. The real star is Kim Basinger, who plays an older women who still looks really good in fishnet hose (yes, on Blu-ray, you can see the pattern of her hose).
Basinger plays Jessica Martin, a chemistry teacher who has a really, really nice house. Her husband, Craig (played by Richard Burgi), is a realtor – who happened to see something that he shouldn’t saw. Anyway, Mrs. Martin is home with the housekeeper after taking her boy to school. In what looks like a home invasion, two men bust in her patio door, kill the housekeeper and kidnap her.
The question of the movie becomes: why are they doing this to her? She swears she is innocent, and they have the wrong person. Luckily for her, they lock her in an attic which just happens to have a phone. In an odd turn for the actor, Jason Statham takes on the role of Ethan, who is the main kidnapper. He busts in the attic and smashes the phone before Mrs. Martin can even process where she has been taken to or what she could use to help her escape.
Well, Mrs. Martin, being the great chemistry teacher she is, knows how to take a smashed phone and rewire it so that it randomly dials and manages to get someone on the line. Yes, Captain America to the rescue! Not quite, but Ryan answers his cell phone and his adventure starts.
The cell phone is a simple flip phone, old school texting, but state of the art back then. How far we have come…or maybe not. In the wake of the Rodney King riots, which might have been still fresh in the writer’s mind, the reason for kidnapping of Mrs. Martin reminded me of that particular event and how it came to the public’s conscience.
Despite the laughable technology and history repeating itself, I stayed engrossed, even when William Macy’s character Mooney tries a mud mask for his wife’s latest business venture, beauty spas.
Macy plays Sgt. Bob Mooney, a really good guy, and a really good cop who is about to retire. Retirement comes with more than he bargained for as he has to contend with dirty cops, the betrayal of one of his friends, and a boring desk job.
I thought, in retrospect, Cellular speaks volume about our culture. Cell phones have become such a huge part of our daily lives that one doesn’t often think of their humble roots unless reminded. This movie did that for me.
As I was texting on my smartphone while Macy’s Mooney fumbled his way into the biggest crime arrest of his career, I paused to think that I really did like this movie. It kept me watching, but the plot holes are big enough ruin it if you think too hard.
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