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Arrogant publicist Stu (Colin Farrell) is on the cellphone pretty much
24/7 ... except when he's talking to aspiring actress Pam (Katie Holmes),
whom he wants to get into bed but who he has to call from a public phone
booth because his wife (Radha Mitchell) is going through hie phonebills.
day, while in his usual phone booth in busy 8th Avenue, Manhattan, he gets
a pizza delivered, but chases the pizza guy (Dell Yount) away - and
suddenly he finds himself on the phone with some madman who starts to
threaten him, proves to him that he has a gun pointed directly at him ...
and ultimately shoots a pimp (John Enos III) who's getting on Stu's
nerves. Thing is, Stu has no idea where the shot has come from, and all
eye witnesses figure it was he who shot the pimp ... and before you know
it, the police is here, wanting to arrest Stu - but Stu has to stay on the
phone, otherwise he will be shot, and Captain Ed (Forest Whitaker) tries
everything in the book to get Stu out of the booth, and only eventually,
he realizes there's something more to the whole thing than just a killer
hiding in a phone booth.
Meanwhile, the caller/stranger/killer makes Stu
confess all his wrongdoings, all his lies to all of the involved -
including his wife, Pam, his assistant (Keith Nobbs) - right there on the
spot, which is of course transmitted live on television ... but somehow,
Stu also figures a way to get a message to his wife that helps the police
track down the caller - but then he makes the mistake of gloating, giving
the police raid away to the caller, and finally he gives himself up to the
police - but is shot down and injured by an overzealous sharpshooter.
police eventually find the caller, who turns out to be the pizza guy from
the gebinning, who has slit his own wrists ... but it's not that simple,
before Stu is driven off by ambulance, a man sits down next to him and
urges him to be good for the rest of his life ... a man who turns out to
be the caller of course (and who's played by Kiefer Sutherland).
Larry Cohen has written Phone Booth decades ago for Alfred
Hitchcock, but that deal never came into being, and in the early 2000's,
screenwriter Larry Cohen (again allegedly) tried to get the thing off the
ground with himself in the directing chair - but bailed out when big name
actors like Mel Gibson and Colin Farrell showed interest in the project
(as he correctly figured, big names equal loss of control). Direction was
finally handed over to Hollywood hack Joel Schumacher, who does a decent
job - but nothing at all to write home about. The one main problem with
the film is actually Colin Farrell, the Hollywood big-name - who's
actually not good enough an actor to carry the film, he does prove his
lack of talent in several scenes.
The other problem is that Schumacher
was either not able to see the satirical aspects of the film or simply
didn't care about them, as he turned a film with enormous possibilities
(and if you are familiar with screenwriter Cohen, you know about his
talent for satire) into a straight-forward thriller. And then there's the
scene in which Colin Farrell confesses all his sins (and I don't know if
that one was in Cohen's original script) - and all I can say, man that's
cheesy, it really destroys much of the buildup of the film, which is a
downright shame, period.
Apart from that, who decided that Farrell
didn't really have an affair with Katie Holmes but only fantasized about
it? Somehow the film would have packed much more of a punch if they really
had an affair ... but then again, that would have meant Farrell is an
asshole, wouldn't it - and we don't want the film's lead to be an asshole,
Now wait a minute, the whole fucking point of the movie is that
he in fact is an asshole, and even though his adversary is a
madman, he is still paying for his own sins. Am I not getting the film
right here, or was Cohen failing to see the point of the script he has
written, or was it some ignorant Hollywood bigwigs suggesting some minor
changes? I can't honestly tell, but you might guess what I'm guessing.
that aside, for a mainstream thriller, Phone Booth is ok, no big
deal, but then what do you expect from a mainstream thriller - it's just
no film to get excited about, either.