Thursday, April 24, 2003

Movie Review(Phone Booth)...

Phone Booth

After fatally wounding Warner Brothers’ biggest franchise when he directed the diabolical Batman and Robin in 1997, director Joel Schumacher was a laughing stock. He desperately needed a critical hit and finally achieved it with 2000’s Tigerland. Although a box office bomb, the movie received wide critical acclaim and introduced the world to Colin Farrell. The pair have teamed up again for a taut psychological thriller, Phone Booth. This movie should sit comfortably alongside Schumacher’s early successes such as Falling Down and A Time to Kill.

Comparisons will be made to Wesley Snipes’ Liberty Stands Still but Phone Booth is by far the better movie. Unlike "Liberty", this story is much more personal. Farrell’s character, Stu Shephard, is introduced as an arrogant, self obsessed publicist, who we discover is having an affair with one of his actress clients played by Katie Holmes. Stu routinely calls his girlfriend from a phone booth because he knows his wife checks his mobile phone bill. Hanging up the receiver after talking to his girlfriend, the phone rings. As “a ringing phone must be answered”, Stu complies. Big mistake. It turns out that a sniper has Stu in his sights. If he hangs up the phone he will die. If he tries to leave the phone booth, he will die. “Why me?” asks Stu understandably. The snipers’ list of reasons state that he wants Stu to "be a man", "come clean" and explains that "deception can't go unrewarded".

This is a solid script from b-movie king Larry Cohen. The filmmakers manage to wring every last ounce of tension from a relatively simple premise. Shot in only 12 days in 2001 (It was delayed in the aftermath of September 11th and the Washington sniper killings) this movie was made before Colin Farrell’s previous hits Daredevil and The Recruit. Had it been released on time, there is no doubt that Farrell would be considered a fine actor and not just labelled “a movie star”. He delivers a remarkable performance and displays a talent here, which I felt was only hinted at with The Recruit. Backed by a strong supporting cast including Kiefer Sutherland and Forrest Whitaker, I would strongly recommend this movie.

4 out of 5