Written by a phone-obsessed Larry Cohen (he also wrote the tense Phone Booth with Colin Farrell), Cellular is a movie that relies on some logic gaps to get started. Characters do dumb things, and you can only yell at the screen in an attempt to help them overcome their mind block. Once things begin to roll, the action scenes start, and the tension can build, all of that is excused.
Kim Basinger is believable as a panic stricken kidnapped woman who makes a desperate call on a shattered phone to save her life. The call ends up in Chris Evans' cell phone, and this begins the movie's insane pacing, rarely losing its grip on the audience. The mysteries begin to pile up, and add that extra layer the film needs to pull it out of general action sequences.
Characters are set up only because they have to be. There's little known about anyone, and almost everyone attached to Evan's character is inserted for comic relief. Some of these unnecessary comic sequences feel out of place, while a few perfectly tease audiences out of certain clichés.
Action sequences are completely over-blown, funny even, but it doesn't matter. This one moves by too quickly to focus on anything like this. It comes in just a little over 90-minutes, and while it does lose its grip a little around the hour mark, as the conclusion builds, it grabs everyone back.
Product placement is frustrating, especially for Office Max in the opening moments. It's distracting enough to be a major problem, and for some people, it may be too much. To think someone is actually going to hold a box perfectly so the logo is dead center in the shot is just hard to swallow, as is the apparent random stupidity of the characters.
When it resolves all the problems, it may come out as a blatant Hollywood ending, and it would have been nice to know what happens to the characters (particularly Evans, who commits carjackings, causes massive pile-ups, fires a gun in public, and sets up a cop in an airport). It's not a completely brain dead thriller, but it does have those moments. Still, when the innovative final credits role, you will come away satisfied enough to realize you were entertained. (**** out of *****)