The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
"Cellular" stands "Phone Booth" on its head. The 2003 thriller was about a psychopath who threatens Colin Farrell with death if he leaves a Manhattan phone booth. The new one has Chris Evans racing desperately all over Los Angeles as he tries to stay on his cell phone with a woman who says she's been kidnapped. The same writer, Larry Cohen, collaborated on both projects and is no doubt currently involved in a thriller about chat rooms.
The plot of "Cellular" sounds like a gimmick, and no wonder: It is a gimmick. What's surprising is how convincing it is, under the circumstances, and how willingly we accept the premise and get involved in it. The movie is skillfully plotted, halfway plausible and well acted; the craftsmanship is in the details, including the astonishing number of different ways in which a cell phone can be made to function -- both as a telephone, and as a plot device.
Kim Basinger stars as Jessica, a high school science teacher who is kidnapped by violent home invaders and held prisoner in an attic. The men who have taken her want something from her husband -- something she knows nothing about. They know where her young son Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon) attends school and plan to kidnap him, too. The kidnappers are hard men, especially their cold, intense leader Greer, played by Jason Statham. Because they've allowed Jessica to see them, she assumes they will eventually kill her.
The attic has a wall phone, which a kidnapper smashes to bits. But Jessica the science teacher is able to fit some of the parts back together and click on the wires to make a call -- at random. She reaches Ryan (Chris Evans), a twentysomething kid who at first doesn't believe her when she says she has been kidnapped. At one point, he even puts her on hold; that's part of the movie's strategy of building our frustration by creating one believable obstacle after another. Jessica pleads with him not to hang up, to trust her enough to hand his cell phone to a cop. Something in her voice convinces him. He walks into a police station and hands the phone to a desk cop named Mooney (William H. Macy), who gets sidetracked and advises him to go to homicide, up on the fourth floor. Uh-huh. But Mooney, too, hears something in her voice, and later in the day it still resonates. He's not your typical hot-dog movie cop, but a quiet, thoughtful professional with unexpected resources.