Cellular (film)

Cellular is a 2004 American action thriller film directed by David R. Ellis. The film stars Chris Evans, Jason Statham, Kim Basinger and William H. Macy, with Noah Emmerich, Richard Burgi, Valerie Cruz and Jessica Biel. The screenplay was written by Chris Morgan, based on a story by Larry Cohen.[2]

Cellular poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid R. Ellis
Produced by
Screenplay byChris Morgan
Story byLarry Cohen
Music byJohn Ottman
CinematographyGary Capo
Edited byEric Sears
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$57.7 million[1]

The film was released on September 10, 2004. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $57 million.


Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) is a high school biology teacher who lives with her husband Craig (Richard Burgi), a realtor, and their son Ricky (Adam Taylor Gordon). One day, after taking Ricky to the bus stop for school, she is kidnapped by a group of five people who break into her house, kill her housekeeper, confine her in the attic of their safe house, and smash the landline telephone hanging on one of the beams in the attic to prevent her from contacting anyone. Jessica, however, manages to use the wires of the broken phone to contact a random number.

Meanwhile, a carefree young man named Ryan (Chris Evans) is hanging out at Santa Monica Pier with his friend Chad (Eric Christian Olsen) when he comes across his ex-girlfriend, Chloe (Jessica Biel), who had previously dumped Ryan for being too irresponsible, self-centered, and completely childish. Hoping to get back together with Chloe, Ryan offers to hand out fliers for the pier's concert and pick up four boxes of t-shirts from Office Depot; initially, Ryan has Chad hand out the fliers until he returns with the t-shirts. On his way, Ryan gets a call on his cellphone, a Nokia 6600, from Jessica who informs him of her kidnapping situation.

Although Ryan takes it as a prank call, Jessica persuades him to go to the police station, where he reports to Sergeant Bob Mooney (William H. Macy). When a fight between several police officers and apprehended gang members breaks out, Mooney is forced to intervene and tells Ryan to report the kidnapping to the robbery-homicide division. Ethan (Jason Statham), the gang leader, asks Jessica for the location of Craig, and when Jessica refuses to provide information Ethan wants, he leaves to get Ricky. Overhearing them, Ryan realizes that the kidnapping is real and gets to Ricky's school, only to see the boy kidnapped. He hijacks a security officer's car and gives chase. When his phone battery runs out, he takes the gun in the car and holds up a store to "buy" a charger.

Deciding to check on Ryan's kidnapping claim, Mooney visits Jessica's house. He meets Dana Bayback (Valerie Cruz), the kidnappers' sole female, posing as Jessica, leading Mooney to believe the claim is a false alarm. With Ricky in tow, Ethan returns and asks Jessica about a place her husband Craig is hiding, "The Left Field". Jessica, fearing the kidnappers will kill her and her family once Craig is found, attacks Ethan, but is overpowered and confesses that it is a bar at the Los Angeles International Airport. Before Ethan departs, a woman (Lin Shaye) playing loud music in her car pulls up next to Ryan, but Ryan quickly silences his phone before Ethan can get suspicious.

A cross-connection between phone lines causes Ryan to rob a nearby lawyer (Rick Hoffman)'s cellphone and car to maintain connection. At the airport, Ryan plants the gun on one of the kidnappers, triggering the alarm. When security intervenes, the kidnappers are revealed to be police officers and they proceed to apprehend Craig. While at a day spa with his wife, Mooney views a news report of Ryan holding up the store for the charger (and stealing the lawyer's phone and car) and calls Jessica's home. He notices the voice on the answering machine is different from that of the woman he met (who has an accent).

The kidnappers escort Craig to his safe deposit box at a bank to retrieve a bag, but Ryan intervenes and flees with the bag, only to drop the lawyer's cellphone while being chased by the kidnappers. When Ryan opens Craig's bag, he finds Craig's video camera, on which Craig unintentionally filmed LAPD Detectives Ethan, Mad Dog (Brendan Kelly), Dimitri (Eric Etebari), Bayback, Deason (Matt McColm), and Mooney's friend Jack Tanner (Noah Emmerich), robbing and murdering two drug dealers, exposing them as dirty cops.

Ryan steals the lawyer's car from the impound lot and retrieves his own cellphone. Mooney returns to the Martin residence, where he kills Bayback in self-defense when she shoots at him. Back at the safe house, Mad Dog learns that Jessica has been trying to contact help and attempts to kill her, but Jessica purposely cuts his brachial artery, causing him to bleed to death in seconds. Before Jessica and Ricky can escape, they are caught by Ethan's gang, but before they can be executed with Craig, Ryan contacts Ethan and makes a deal: the videotape in exchange for the Martin family at Santa Monica Pier.

At the pier, Ryan disguises himself and refuses to give them the camera until the Martins are freed, but is found by Mooney and Tanner when Chloe inadvertently exposes him. Tanner sends Mooney away for medical attention, abducts Ryan and brings him to Ethan. Ethan destroys the videotape, and Tanner radios Deason to execute the Martins (although Deason decides to wait until they return to the safe house to execute them and avoid suspicion); however, Mooney overhears the transmission, overpowers Dimitri and handcuffs him before returning to the pier. Ryan escapes to a boathouse, following a distraction by Chad, where Tanner and Ethan chase after him. Ryan knocks out Tanner, but is overpowered by Ethan before Mooney shows up. After a brief chase, Ryan notices Ethan has circled behind Mooney and calls Ethan's cell phone. The phone's ringtone exposes Ethan's position, and Mooney shoots him.

Jessica stuns Deason by strangling him with her handcuff chain in the van, then frees her husband and son; however, Deason recovers and attempts to kill them when Ryan intervenes and slams his head in the car door. While Ryan and Mooney are being treated by medics, Tanner is also exposed, because Ryan had copied the video recording onto his cellphone. Jessica finally meets Ryan, the man who risked his life to save her family, and Ryan humorously asks her to never call him again.



Larry Cohen, screenwriter of the 2002 thriller film Phone Booth, conceived of Cellular while working for Sony Pictures.[3] Cohen's original screenplay mimicked Phone Booth in its theme of a "narcissistically obsessed society" enamored with cell phones.[4] Its story followed a 30- or 40-year-old man named Theo Novak who obtains a call from a woman named Lenore, who tells him that she and her husband have been abducted in a safehouse by a group of bank robbers. It is then revealed that Novak is an art thief who becomes wracked with guilt after unsuccessfully rescuing a friend from committing suicide in the past; he agrees to make a detour from a criminal undertaking and rescue Lenore. During the rescue Novak is unsuccessful, but later discovers a conspiracy involving Lenore and her accomplices over another crime they are involved with—ultimately, Novak gains the upper hand, killing Lenore and her accomplices and obtains their loot in the process, which leaves him therefore a wealthy man.[4]

Sony Pictures' then Vice President Lauren Lloyd was drawn to Cohen's script and thought of pitching it to fellow executives, but was unsuccessful in doing so.[3] She then left Sony to produce the project independently. Lloyd sent the script to her colleague producer Dean Devlin and pledged to develop it together.[3] Aiming for a story straightforward and devoid of bitterness and cynicism present in Cohen's version, the pair hired screenwriter Chris Morgan.[3][4] Morgan had been passionate about crafting "a story about how an everyday person can become heroic when faced with a certain set of trying circumstances", and he incorporated that in Cellular.[3] In an attempt to segue the script's predominant action and thriller elements with situational comedy, as well as appeal to young audiences, Morgan took inspiration from the comical attributes of the fictional character Indiana Jones:

I'm a big fan of situational humor and I feel like comedy plays best when it's the right thing at the right time and not just somebody trying to make a joke. For example, in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones is faced with fighting the swordsman and he just pulls out a gun and shoots him. That’s not really a joke, but it got a huge laugh. That's the kind of humor we tried to work.[3]


Cellular (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedOctober 5, 2004
GenreElectronic, Stage & Screen
LabelLa-La Land Records LLLCD 1025
John Ottman chronology
Cellular (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Lonely Place

The soundtrack for the movie was composed by John Ottman and released on October 5, 2004 via La-La Land Records label.[5][6]

Track listingEdit

1."Opening / Abduction"3:09
2."Going Shopping"3:35
3."Making A Connection"2:20
4."The Bait"3:08
5."Mooney's Curious"1:22
6."Freeing Ricky"4:05
7."School's Out"4:23
8."We're Going To Die"2:11
10."Epiphany / The Bank"4:04
11."The Pier"4:10
12."Lost Connection / Dirty Cops"4:44
13."Hot Porsche / Simply Biology"3:37
14."Police Station"4:01
15."Fake Out"2:12
16."Shoot Out"5:42


Box officeEdit

Cellular grossed $32 million in the U.S. and Canada and $25.7 million in international markets, for a total of $57.7 million worldwide.

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of 149 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 5.76/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Though it's gimmicky and occasionally feels like a high-end cell phone ad, Cellular is also an energetic and twisty thriller."[7] Metacritic, another review aggregator, gave the film a score of 60 out of 100 based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or averaged reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Entertainment Weekly called the film "pure chase-thriller excitement",[10] and Claudia Puig of USA Today called it a "well-paced action film in the vein of Speed".[11] Roger Ebert rated it three and half stars and called it "one of the year's best thrillers".[2]

Kim Basinger was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 31st Saturn Awards.

Home media and remakesEdit

A novelization of the film was written by Pat Cadigan and released in October 2004 by Black Flame. Cellular was released on DVD along with the VHS format on January 18, 2005. The film was released on Blu-ray on July 17, 2012.

The 2007 Bollywood film Speed is an adaption of Cellular directed by Vikram Bhatt. The film stars Zayed Khan, Sanjay Suri, Urmila Matondkar, Aftab Shivdasani and Aashish Chaudhary.

The 2007 Malayalam movie Hello draws the plot of kidnap and phone call to a random number from Cellular.

In 2008, a Hong Kong remake of the film entitled Connected was co-written, produced and directed by Benny Chan. The film stars Louis Koo, Barbie Shu, Nick Cheung and Liu Ye.

In 2009, a Tollywood remake of the film entitled Risk was directed by Riingo Banerjee. The film stars Hiran Chatterjee, Rajesh Sharma, Rituparna Sengupta, Priyanka Sarkar and Subhasish Mukhopadhyay.


  1. ^ a b "Cellular (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (September 10, 2004). "Cellular". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Cellular Movie Production Notes". Made in Atlantis. New Line Cinema. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Williams, Tony (2014). Larry Cohen: The Radical Allegories of an Independent Filmmaker. United States: McFarland & Company. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-7864-7969-6.
  5. ^ "John Ottman — Cellular (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  6. ^ "Cellular (2004)". soundtrackinfo.com. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
  7. ^ "Cellular (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "Cellular (2004)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Cellular" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  10. ^ Owen Gleiberman (September 8, 2004). "Cellular". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  11. ^ Claudia Puig (September 9, 2004). "'Cellular' answers action call". USA Today. Retrieved June 2, 2014.

External linksEdit