Phone Booth could have been made for even less money. I'm sure of it. How much of the reported $13 million budget was spent on helicopters and police cars? For the tiny bit of drama that added to the movie, they could have been skipped. Yes, I know that the movie made it's budget and more back the first weekend. I know that far more was spent on marketing and prints than on the film itself. Still, I wonder why even a "low-budget" film these days has to cost $13 million. I suppose it takes money to reserve a block of Los Angeles for two weeks, especially if you have to pick one that looks like New York, but still.
The film itself was very good. It lacked the smooth final polish I've come to expect from a standard Hollywood production, which is a plus in my book. The basic plot is pretty simple: A despicable human being working as a publicist in Manhattan visits a phone booth once each day, removes his wedding ring, and calls an aspiring actress to try to convince her to meet him for drinks on a hotel bar. This day, the phone rings. As the voice-over says, Stuart Shepard (Colin Farrell's character) will be the last occupant of that phone booth.
We've all seen the previews, so we know what happens, but if you really don't want to know, stop reading now and go catch the movie. You won't regret it.
The sniper (Keifer Sutherland) that has Stu in his sights is creepy. Is there any chance that Stu will redeem himself and escape the punishment the sniper has prepared? That is the central question of the movie, and one fraught with possible complications. After all, if the sniper could truly make his target believe that this is truly a matter of life and death, who wouldn't say whatever he needed to say to escape? How would the sniper know for sure that his target had a true change of heart? And what about previous targets, have they managed to repent adequately? As the plot developed, I thought I saw plot holes open up, but further information closed them again. In the end, it all works. It's all believable. While the sniper's motivation is as tenuous as his grasp on reality, it is consistent, and it works. I try not to make the mistake of assuming that a guy with a rifle who tries to dispense judgement from on high is a completely rational actor, after all.