Don't think about this movie afterward. Just don't.

Upon reflection, no one's actions in this kidnapping thriller make any sense. Not the kidnappee's (Kim Basinger), not her kidnappers', not her husband's (Richard Burgi), and certainly not those of the reluctant rescuer Ryan (Chris Evans).

But if you can suspend disbelief, "Cellular" is a dramatic and rather scary thriller, the upper hand trading hands from good to bad guys (are they really the bad guys after all?) so often the ending is impossible to predict.

"Cellular" gets off to a slow start, despite big scary black-wearing shaved-head muscle-bound kidnappers (one of whom is named Dimitri - I feel a stereotype taking place.) Their leader (Jason Statham) can't open a door without causing it serious damage. Basinger, playing an extremely wimpy high school biology teacher, is terrorized and left in an empty attic. She manages to piece together a shattered phone, but it will only call one person - Evans - who doesn't believe she's been kidnapped. He's much too busy trying to impress his ex-girlfriend (Jessica Biel) down at the beach, a definite contrast from the dark and threatening attic.

Eventually convinced, Evans sets out to the rescue. As the kidnappers get scarier, (they go after Basinger's kid, as well as her husband, who has Something That They Want), Evans' actions get more desperate. First, he hijacks a school security vehicle which conveniently has a gun inside. When his cell phone, his only link to Basinger, is running out of charge and no one at the store will help him, Evans holds the place up. (That'll teach those customer service people!). Gradually causing worse and worse car wrecks, including a run-in with a cement mixer, Evans is forced to steal a Porsche from the most cliched attorney imaginable. (He'll sue you. And you. And everybody!)

Basinger, despite her wimpy exterior, turns out surprisingly tough, with such exploits as driving a truck through a building (of course the bad guys left the keys in the truck - bad guys always do) and choking someone with her handcuffs.

The beach scene adds entertainment - Evans gets to beat one of the bad guys up with a surfboard - as does a reluctant cop (William H. Macy) whose ambition is to get out of this police business and open a day spa (his live-algae face mask is cute.) He is the only cop who actually does anything useful. After all, in an action movie, you can't trust the cops. Ordinary citizens must step up.

As Evans manages to retrieve the mystery item that the kidnappers want, he becomes the target, and leads the kidnappers on a wild ride that ends up back at the beach where his day started. He attempts to arrange a tradeoff of Basinger and family for the mystery item, only to be foiled by his ex, who naturally shows up at the worst possible time to berate him for his now irrelevant shortcomings. Carnage follows. Of course.

Technology drives this piece, alternately saving and failing Evans, at one point spectacularly betraying Basinger (of all things, her biology knowledge saves her) and ultimately leading to the downfall of at least two of the bad guys.

"Cellular" is decidedly on the silly side and a bit predictable, but is compelling to watch if you like plenty of action, suspense and people getting beaten up.


Rated PG-13 for violence, terror situations, language and some sexual references

Starring: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, Jason Statharn, William H. Macy

Directed by: David R. Ellis

Length: One hour 34 minutes

Now playing at:Astoria Gateway Cinema, Cannes Cinema Center in Seaside

Short take: A kidnapped Kim Basinger repairs a smashed phone, but can only contact a laidback beach bum, played by Chris Evans, whose exploits get more and more illegal and terrifying as he battles to save her.

Rating: Two stars (out of four)

Movie trivia: What crippling fear did Kim Basinger suffer from before she received therapy for it?

Answer: Basinger suffered from agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces, and would sometimes remain in her own home for months at a time.


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