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Personally, I find cellular phones intrusive and an annoyance in everyday life, so I don't carry one save for a cheap, prepaid one I have under the seat of my car for emergencies that has been used two or three times to make sure that it is still in working order. I don't need one for business and I don't feel the need or even want to be connected to anyone when I'm not at home or sitting at my desk at work, and after seeing this latest thriller Cellular, I'm beginning to wonder about that prepaid phone hiding away in my vehicle too.

Cellular
One bright, sunny afternoon in Los Angles, Ryan (Chris Evans) receives a disturbing call on his cellular phone while running an errand in an attempt to prove to the girl that recently dumped him that he still isn't an immature, little boy. The woman on the other end of the line, Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), has been kidnapped by a gang of thugs led by the menacing Ethan Greer (Jason Statham) for reasons unbeknownst to her. It seems that Ryan is her only hope, since the call she has made is from a smashed telephone and that her actually connecting to another person was pure coincidence if not an out right miracle. Ryan grudgingly humors Jessica, not sure if the call is in fact a prank of some sort and offers some small assistance, but soon becomes fully convinced of the situation and must keep Jessica on the line for as long as he can while he attempts to save her and her family from the kidnappers.

Cellular reminded me a lot of two films in particular, the first of which being 1994's Speed. Instead of a bus that must be kept above 50 mph, Ryan must make sure that he doesn't lose the connection with Jessica, doing everything he can to avoid a dropped call caused from a bad signal or allowing the phone's battery to die on him, both of which force him into tense situations and quick problem solving mode throughout the film. Writer Larry Cohen, is probably better known as the director of such cult classics as It's Alive, Q: The Winged Serpent, and The Stuff, but also wrote the second film I found many things in common with Cellular--last year's thriller Phone Booth, which also revolved around a telephone as the only thing keeping the character placed in peril alive for much of the film.

The surprising thing is that the film actually works much better than it sounds and provides plenty of suspenseful moments while keeping the action fast and tight. After a short introduction to the main characters, the movie shifts in to high gear with Ryan racing from location to location in an effort to thwart the kidnappers and save Jessica Martin and her family. There are more than a couple of eye rolling coincidences in the film, as there usually are in these types of thrillers, but the picture moves at such a pace they are easily overlooked and forgotten once the next scene comes along. It's a real credit to the screenplay that this suspension of disbelief is sustained throughout the course of the movie while involving a few clever plot twists and laughs along the way.

Cellular
The film is definitely an ensemble piece, but thankfully all of the main players pull off the necessary requirements of their roles to a tee. Chris Evans carries the film for the most part in an excellent, star making turn, and is aided by William H. Macy who delivers yet another solid supporting performance as a cop who stumbles upon the kidnapping plot and works in parallel with Evans' character. Jason Statham is so appropriately menacing and sadistic as the leader of the criminals that I am surprised that no one has cast him as the heavy in a film before, but hopefully after his performance here we might see him in similar, bad guy type roles a few more times in his career. Kim Basinger isn't given much to do for most of the film but look frightened and helpless, but she too is effective in her role, especially as the film progresses and her character is expanded upon.

There has been a deluge of thrillers like this in the past few years like Don't Say A Word, Mercury Rising, and Desperate Measures, but few have been as well rounded and entertaining as Cellular. I really enjoyed the film for what it is, a roller coaster of a movie that doesn't stop to take a breath or put you on hold, and at a perfectly fitting ninety minutes doesn't overstay its welcome or run you into any overages either.

Video
Cellular is presented in an anamorphic transfer at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 for its arrival on DVD. Apart from a few instances where the video could have been a bit sharper, the image is very clean and contains no obvious artefacts or blemishes. The film contains a wide range of colours, all of which are represented very nicely including flesh tones that are quite natural for an overall very pleasing effect. Even though most of Kim Basinger's scenes are played out in a dimly lit attic space, the transfer handles the light and darkness contrasts quite well with little to no grain present. This is a reference quality transfer and exactly how a recently made film should look on your home theatre system.

Cellular
Audio
Cellular has been provided with a few different audio choices including Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks and a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track, all in English with optional English subtitles. Both 5.1 audio tracks are very impressive with good use made of the surround channels to create an immersive audio experience around every turn while keeping the rest of the film's audio clear, crisp and balanced when coming from the other channels, surprisingly to include the LFE channel as well since I didn't expect it to be of much use during the film. While either 5.1 track will serve you well, the DTS track offers a wider frequency range to create a richer and deeper sound field. John Ottman's score works nicely in keeping the energetic and frenetic pace of the movie solid throughout. Overall, both 5.1 tracks are reference quality with a slight nod going towards the DTS track in this case.

Extras
Cellular has been provided with a few quality special features by Entertainment In Video, such as a commentary track featuring the director and writers, three featurettes and a few deleted/extended scenes that are worth your attention.

The audio commentary is listed as on the special features menu as including director David Ellis and writers Larry Cohen and Chris Morgan. This is a bit misleading, however, as the track begins with Ellis and associate producer and daughter Tawny Ellis along with assistant stunt coordinator and sister Annie Ellis, but the three are soon accompanied, in seemingly different recording sessions, by Morgan and Cohen by cell phone. But the participants don't stop there as more of the cast and crew phone in their commentaries to complete the track. What starts out as a mere gimmick though actually works quite well, giving the commentary track a wider range of views and a broader scope to the insight given about the production. It also adds the fun of trying to guess who is going to show up next over Ellis' cell phone, all making this is one of the better, more informative and certainly more entertaining commentary tracks that I have listened to in a long time.

Cellular
The next features are three featurettes, each running approximately twenty to twenty-seven minutes in duration each. The first, 'Celling Out' runs nineteen minutes and is a documentary on the history of the cellular phone, how they work and where they may be going in the years to come. The piece is interesting and oddly enough entertaining, but I'm just not convinced that it really adds much to the experience of watching the film itself though.

The next featurette entitled, 'Dialing Up Cellular' runs twenty five minutes and is the only actual making-of featurette on the disc. Director Ellis, the writers, cast and crew members each offer a few blurbs on the making of the production that on the whole is mainly a fluff piece full of self-promotional and back patting material, although it does let loose some of the filmmaker's secrets and let the audience in on how certain scenes were accomplished. Overall it isn't the worst featurette of its type that I have seen, but it isn't the best either. The third and final featurette's title is a spoiler for the film itself, so I'll refrain from divulging anything about the piece except to say that it is a good and interesting feature and warn you that you should watch the film before exploring the special features menu so as not to allow a major plot twist in the film to be revealed prematurely.

Rounding out the extras on the disc are five deleted/extended scenes and the film's theatrical trailer. The addition scenes contain optional director commentary and mainly involve two of the film's minor characters, Chloe (Jessica Biel) and Chad (Eric Christian Olsen) in scenes from the beginning and towards the end of the film. These scenes were removed or shortened to quicken the pace of the film and I tend to agree that their exclusion works better for the film, but the scenes are humorous in and of themselves and should satiate anyone wanting to see more of these two characters. And honestly, isn't more Jessica Biel really a good thing after all? Overall, the extras provided on this disc are a good case for quality over quantity; the commentary track is great, the three featurettes that clock in at about an hour and a half are actually interesting and the deleted scenes here are worth taking a look at.

Cellular
Overall
Cellular isn't the most original or intelligent thriller I have ever seen, but it is held together well by a fast, non-stop pace and good performances from the principle cast members. Entertainment In Video's DVD presentation of the film offers up reference quality video and audio to show off your home theatre system and special features that are entertaining and well put together. I didn't expect much out of the film itself based on the surface, but it's actually a fun and wild ride that should satisfy anyone looking for a decent, action thriller and if that sounds like you, I can easily recommend this film and DVD.


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