We've all probably read incidents in newspapers about people whose lives have been saved by their fortunate pairing with their cell phones during times of absolute distress. Now comes a movie, somewhat improbable but nevertheless entertaining, about one such occurrence, and while 'Cellular' doesn't have the high concept, single situational peril of Joel Schumacher's powerhouse 'Phone Booth' from last year, it has enough juicy thrills and premeditated setups to entertain for the duration of its running time.
A school science teacher Jessica Martin (Kim Bassinger), returns home after walking her son to his bus in the front yard to find herself the victim of a kidnapping that leaves her locked away in the attic of an isolated house with a broken phone. Not knowing the reason behind the kidnapping or the motives of her kidnapper (Jason Statham), her confounded desperation compels her to wire the pieces of the mangled set and piece together one call to an anonymous no one, Ryan (Chris Evans). At first, Ryan refuses to believe her because his logic dictates that if given the opportunity to do so in the first place, she would call 911 instead of him. On listening to her continued confrontations with her kidnapper however, he eventually comes to believe Jessica's claims and makes his way to the nearest police station where he bumps into soon-to-retire officer Mooney (William H. Macy), who is himself eventually distracted by a riot outside the precinct. With the decreasing end of the hourglass in his favor, Ryan eventually decides to take the situation into his control and make an attempt to track down Jessica.
From this point on, the quick paced 'Cellular' rides, screeches and gatecrashes through one script obstacle after another with the single minded determination of preventing viewers from thinking too far ahead or questioning too much of the plot. This lean combo of terse setups and convincingly scintillating crisis situations build relentless amounts of frenzied exhibitions, one after the other. Employing the services of Larry Cohen as scriptwriter, who was also responsible for the similarly themed 'Phone Booth', this is a different kind urban paranoia, one not restricted to a single moment but instead a collective set of episodes where technology is both the panacea and the cause of a quandary. Scenes that make the audience grasp when a phone's battery power is low or when its reception signals are cut off inside a speeding tunnel best display its ability to use these strengths in its favor.
The cast doesn't try to rise beyond their given limitations and this suits the material just fine. Chris Evans, who will be seen as the Human Torch in next summer's 'Fantastic Four' movie, never tries to be anything but a careless youngster induced into doing the right thing, while William Macy turns in another focused performance. With its emphasis on making use of all its tech gear to maximum effect, Cellular offers a genial dose harmless thrills. Just remember, familiarity with technology isn't a prerequisite to enjoy this. - Faizan Rashid