Time Out saysGiven that many screen victims could have been saved by handy recourse to a mobile phone, it’s interesting to see a thriller whose action centres on one. Based on a story by ‘Phone Booth’ writer Larry Cohen (bit of a theme emerging here), it sees science teacher Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) snatched from her home by rent-a-thug Jason Statham and locked in a room with a smashed-up phone. Jessica pieces it back together but can only reach one line: the mobile phone of carefree young Ryan (Chris Evans – no, not that one). Jessica begs Ryan to go to the police station – but there’s no time for cops when she spots the kidnappers speeding off to grab her son and later her husband, who has something they desperately want. And so Ryan must race against the clock to outwit the baddies with Jessica’s help, holding up phone stores and stealing Porsches as obstacles demand.
If this sounds like an episode of TV’s ‘24’, that’s probably no coincidence. This merrily exploits the public’s love of clock-tickers that force opposites to collaborate to save the day. But, fun as it is, ‘Cellular’ lacks gravitas. Basinger’s melodramatic hysterics are too theatrical to convince, and potential suspense is often drained by a cheery soundtrack and corny dialogue. Then there’s the tendency to over-indulge admittedly humorous supporting characters such as William H Macy’s facepack-wearing cop and Rick Hoffman’s idiotic Porsche driver. Ultimately, his peppers its drama with so much comedy it fails as a truly nail-biting thriller. A guilty giggle for fans of the genre.