Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Cellular

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror situations, language and some sexual references

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, Jason Statham, Jessica Biel, Noah Emmerich
Director: David R. Ellis
Producer: Lauren Lloyd, Dean Devlin
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Copyright, New Line Cinema
Copyright, New Line Cinema
Copyright, New Line Cinema
Copyright, New Line Cinema
Copyright, New Line Cinema
Relevant Issues
Copyright, New Line Cinema

“If the signal dies so does she.”

Some occurrences in life make us stronger. Some make us realize what life really means, what the people in that life mean, not just to us but to others. Love doesn’t have to be the romantic kind. Friendship and loyalty can pop up at any time in any place for any reason. God plants within each human heart the ability to utilize all these qualities, but it is up to us to tap into them and recognize them, to use them for the greater good. Giving of oneself can be scary yet at the same time be the most fulfilling part of human existence. “Cellular” has a ring tone that’s loud and clear on this note.

Jessica Martin (an ever convincing Kim Basinger) is a science teacher who loves her family, especially her young son Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon). They live in an upscale section of Brentwood, California where her husband Craig (Richard Burgi) is a successful realtor. The day starts out like so many, dropping her son off at the school bus, getting ready for work, having coffee. But, out of no where Jessica’s life changes to panic stricken chaos when she is abducted and her son is kidnaped by a band of hard men led by a cold leader (intense Jason Statham) who demand information from her that she has no knowledge of. Jessica is adamant that they have the wrong family, but her captures are insistent that her husband has something they will stop at nothing to retrieve, even at killing her and anyone else who gets in the way.

As all this is brewing, Ryan (the real star of this movie Chris Evans) a self-centered young man, is making the rounds on the Santa Monica pier schmoozing with the ladies and being his unconcerned self. It is his main goal to just hang out and have fun. All this is about to change drastically when he gets a call on his cell phone from Jessica who has been putting her science teacher know-how to work by piecing together a broken phone and trying to reach anyone who can help her. Ryan thinks it’s a prank at first, but through the course of the conversation comes to the horrible conclusion he is the only one who can help this terrified woman. The wheels start turning and it becomes clear to Ryan he is on a mission that is life or death.

Ryan manages to get the cell phone to a desk cop named Mooney (an always wonderfully quirky, thoughtful William H. Macy). Her voice convinces even Mooney and he scribbles down as much info as he can. Just as it seems Jessica has met her rescuers, a fight breaks out in the lobby of the Police Station and Ryan is instructed to take the phone up to homicide on the fourth floor while Mooney assists in settling down the uproar. From this point on it is Ryan’s soul purpose to rescue Jessica and her family at any cost.

Ryan spends the better part of the movie trying to stay on the line with Jessica while he jumps through dozens of outlandish hoops until the powerful climax. The three main character’s lives intertwine wonderfully in a maddening attempt to beat the clock and uncover the criminals, rescue the Martin family and bring all to justice.

It sounds all thrill-film formula, and you are right, but the way it is presented to us is breathtaking fun and an ingenious use of cell phone technology. Writer Larry Cohen has done it again with phones and the people who use them. It takes us on the next level for cell phone usage, namely how these little devices can function as an emergency alarm, maintain callback records, convey stored information, and preserve evidence by making little stored movies. All one needs is to be sure the battery remains charged up, which is a wonderful scene in this film along with the commandeering of a lawyer’s car during the rescue that must be witnessed to appreciate. Comedic breaks run throughout to give a welcome breather from all the intensity and they are placed at just the right points.

“Cellular” takes us all on a wild ride of crazy, highly unlikely, obnoxious occurrences, but we all go along because the motivations of the characters are strong and clear. It is a relentless non-stop roller coaster ride from five minutes in until the electrifying finale. Even the ending credits are a treat.

Even though I enjoyed myself, I still find some points of caution to concerned Christians. Be advised there are shooting scenes where people are killed, blood and violence, people and children in peril. There are frantic realistic crash scenes. Guns are used, women are slapped and thrown to the floor. Ryan’s friend makes several references to female body parts and one character makes a lued finger gesture. The f-word is used once, sh*t seven times, a** once, bull-sh* three times, a**hole once, bi*ch* three times, and the Lord’s name was spoken in vain two times. Almost all of these profanities were uttered by the villains.

In the end, Ryan’s character finds that being selfish and vain are not the way to man’s fulfillment in life. The lessons learned are clear and true to the characters in this story. Self sacrifice, the options to care for others even if we do not know them personally, and the willingness to fight for a worthy cause with no thought of oneself are noble Christ centered points made throughout this film. It is evident that the youthful Ryan character has been transformed by his experience and he has come out the other side as a wiser, more mature, concerned individual.

Sometimes a stranger can ease a stressful situation, can be a light in the darkness, or even save a life. I believe that God is changing our culture one person at a time. Ryan is the essence of one type of person we deal with daily—the one who is self obsessed and seemingly unfeeling of all other’s needs around him. The “me” generation has given birth to such as these. It also reminds me, as tribute this week, of the people who gave of themselves on 9-11-01 to save and rescue others on that fateful day. Many who lost their lives that day did so with no thought to themselves but to save the lives of perfect strangers. They became a shining light letting others see Jesus in them through love and sacrifice. Even in a world so out of touch with Christian values God places people in line with others as an example of His love for all of us sometimes to be a beam of hope for people caught in a desperate situation.

Remember that the ultimate purpose for living is to know and glorify God. Pray with your family, friends, and even strangers. Share the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You might just help to save a valuable human life!

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Viewer Comments
Positive—This movie was really neat. The plot was well thought out and the actors were very good in portraying their characters. The violence wasn’t overwhelming or anything, but fit right into what was going on. There wasn’t any “extra” or “unnecessary” killing as far as the plot was concerned. There wasn’t too much cussing (although NONE would be great) and there was only very mild sexual references. There is one part where some teens are at a beach and one girl is obviously not wearing a bra under her shirt and they refer to her as “nipples.” But that was the “worst” part. Overall, I thought the movie was a great thriller!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Autumn, age 18
Negative—…I would like to correct the reviewer, who said the Lord’s name was taken in vain 2 times. His name was blasphemed no less than 3 times and loudly! I only went to this movie because another Christian had seen it and told me that the Lord’s name was not taken in vain (“not even once,” was her comment). I guess she wasn’t paying attention.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Cheryl Petrucelli, age 57
Negative—All of the action scenes of this movie were fun to watch, it was suspenseful… the reviewer forgot to mention most of the setting was at a beach and nearly naked women were all throughout the movie… the movie dwelled on breasts and nipples. VERY OFFENSIVE!!!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Linda, age 27
Negative$7.50? Don’t waste your money. Language is prevalent, wasted violence, and the movie is just plain UNREALISTIC. Pure waste of not only money but time. Only one actor was acceptable, the others were (or appeared to be… or sounded) like cheap, underpaid fillers. Not only is it offensive with language, but with the thought that Hollywood could throw this out and expect people to enjoy it.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—themovieone, age 18
Positive—This movie was great! The best thing was that there was hardly any vulgarity and gore. I took my girlfriend to see this movie, and she loved it. She laughed, and she was scared at the same time. She almost cried also. As for me, this was the best movie I have ever seen. My girlfriend and I are devout Christians, and we were hardly offended.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Jared, age 18
Negative—Although the plot and theme were good, the movie left me feeling offended because of the extensive use of cuss words. One of the young men stated that he had a eleven foot long p****. In addition, there were many scenes with women in bathing suits; they were even in the background of many scenes which did not need them.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Jack Neale, age 44
Neutral—It was okay. I think the best part was my friend and I laughing through parts of it. It wasn’t realistic at all, but I thought the characters did a fairly good job of portraying their characters. Overall, it was a decent film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Lindsey, age 19
Positive—…real good. The chase scenes are A-okay! Chris Evans is quite a good driver (that is, if he didn’t have a “double”). Everyone else performed their characters pretty well. There were some foul words used… but if you will watch a movie and focus on looking for such foul words and obnoxious/detestable scenes, better lock yourself up in a room in an isolated area 'coz you won’t find any film nowadays without it (Well, of course, except for films produced, directed and performed by all-Christian staff.). Not that I support sexy-scenes-and-foul-words-from-start-to-end movies. I just don’t waste my time and money to judge movies if they are odious or not.

Of course, believers have to be very careful in choosing movies to watch. But films like this should be enjoyed not be judged negatively. If you watch a film with a bit of foul words and scenes, broaden your mind and just let it go. Don’t be too affected by it. If there’s still someone like “Ryan,” living in this self-centered world, who is willing to help a family (he never met) in a life and death situation, praise be to God! And so as to the desk cop “Mooney” who is so straight with regards to his duties and responsibilities as an authorized law enforcer, two thumbs high up! In spiritual concept, many people right now are asking for help, “…just 10 minutes off your whole day…,” to take their plea to the One who has the only power and authority over all creation. These people are those who are looking for the Redeemer to save him/her and his/her family from the “…rulers and authorities of this world…” If only believers would really listen and take time to pray and help these people, maybe this world would be a better place to live in and the glory of Christ will shine in the four corners of the Earth.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Len Deyto (Phil), age 21
Positive—I was shocked about the comment from the lady complaining about the beach scene. She must be kind of hypersensitive to seeing women in the background wearing bikinis. The movie didn’t reveal or show anything that offensive in the beach scene. Just to make sure I even replayed the beach scene looking for anything that could be viewed as offensive. The reason I write this is because I almost didn’t watch the movie due to her review and therefore decided to write my own review. I found the beach scene to be nothing different than going to the mall in the summer time. It was a great movie!
My Ratings: [Good/3½]
—Richard, age 47

Comments from young people
Positive—I just loved the movie “Cellular.” It keeps you at the edge of your seat all the way through. I went back and saw it 4 more times. I give it 2 thumbs up.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Haylee, age 16
Positive—I thought this movie was really well made, but the profanity made it objectionable. There wasn’t a lot of it, but just enough to make a Christian uncomfortable. I thought the acting from the three main characters (Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy) was excellent. You could not find anyone better to play these roles. All in all I would say the quality of this movie was EXCELLENT, but profanity makes it unsuitable for anyone under 13.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Zak Dickey, age 16
Negative—I loved this movie. There was some sexual comments, but I didn’t find them offensive. I wouldn’t consider the whole movie offensive. It was scary, but I appreciated the lack of blood and mass murder. I thought it was at the perfect level of horror, and you will like this movie a lot, if you’re not really into the suspense and horror scene.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Stephanie, age 15
Positive—I dug this movie because it was exciting, simple, and fun. There was no sexuality or nudity, relatively few curses, and pretty minimal blood. It was intense and entertaining. The end credits were hilarious. It rocked!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Amanda, age 17
Positive—…a GREAT movie! I went with my friend, and we both really enjoyed it; it was funny, suspenseful and could be a tear-jerker at the end when the two main people meet for the first time. There was really no offensive or objectional scenes in the movie, in the beginning there were some sexual comments, but other than that it seemed good! This movie should be for kids 10 and older, younger children wouldn’t understand it. You should definitely go see this movie, you won’t be disappointed!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Arianna, age 14
Positive—…completely loved it! I cried, I laughed so hard that I cried, and the suspense was great without all the corny jaws-type music. This was a great movie and the chase scenes are great. This is a movie that should be seen on a big screen for the chase scenes alone.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Katie R., age 17
Movie Critics
…Despite some dead spots, “Cellular” connects in the end… It’s tightly made and well written in deceptive ways that don’t reveal themselves until past the halfway point…
—Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
…more entertaining than it has a right to be… a number of funny scenes… violence galore…
—Sue Pierman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
…It’s good… a lot of the humor… quite suspenseful in places, often hilarious…
—Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News
…preposterous plot and tissue-thin characters…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter