Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

Odd that this was the first theatrical movie I've seen in ages not to be preceded by a computer-animated admonishment to "please turn off your pagers and cell phones."

If you ever doubt what makes a movie good instead of mediocre, beyond your own enjoyment of it anyway, consider this an example. While numerous films this summer have started with disposable, formulaic plots, "Collateral" demonstrated genuine interest in the fundamental morality of its two main characters, while "The Bourne Supremacy" possessed a master's precise sense of style and pacing. On the other hand, while "Cellular" does get a lot of mileage out of its not-unreasonable high concept, it has precious little time for anything not directly related. This is the kind of minimal-effort thriller where every offhand detail about a character is mentioned either to set up a later plot point (will her skills as a biology teacher help her disable an attacker? will the digital camera in his cell phone be used to record something important?) or exists only for the sake of comic relief (William H. Macy with green mud on his face! ha, ha) so that the film doesn't become an awful bore. This isn't a bad film by any means, exhausting most of the permutations possible with such a premise and blessed with four primary actors who are very good at what they do, but like its soulmate "Phone Booth," it just doesn't care to be about anything more than itself. At least the seemingly endless cat-and-mouse game that suffices as the final showdown between hero and villain redeems itself at last with the cleverest use of a cell phone in a movie full of clever uses.

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