30 April 2003 | Jason_Lee
Synopsis of this flick without spoiling the end.
Have you ever seen a movie that you would actually pay money to watch more than once? What if I told you that this film had a setting of only one main location, two main actors and three supporting cast members? While these elements don't make up what a classic movie sounds like on paper, add director Joel Schumacher (Bad Company, 8mm) into the mix, along with screenwriter Larry Cohen, who had this story handed down to him by Alfred Hitchcock himself about 30 years ago, and you have the perfect blend of blackmail, violence and extortion: Phone Booth. The story begins by showing a glimpse into the life of Stu Shepard (Daredevil's Colin Farrell). Stu is a New York hustler that people love to hate. He is egotistical, two-faced to everyone he knows and does what he can for personal gratification. He even fantasizes about cheating on his wife Kelly (Pitch Black's Radha Mitchell) and the object of that desire is Pamela McFadden (Dawson Creek's Katie Holmes). Pam is a young actress trying to get her first break, while Stu has been grooming her for the big time. To avoid having his calls to Pam appear on his cellular phone bill, Stu calls her from the lone phone booth left in the heart of NYC. However, things would be different on this day. Upon hanging up, he receives a call that would turn his whole world upside down. The caller (24's Kiefer Sutherland) is a sniper, who has been targeting high-profile underhanded suits, just like Stu. He has a few simple rules so that Stu does not meet the same fate that two others had before him: don't leave the booth, don't tell anyone who he's talking to, and most importantly, don't hang up. To prove his seriousness, the caller shoots and kills a pimp who tries to physically remove Stu from the booth for taking too much time with his call. This, as expected, does not help matters, and the fallen pimp's hookers now believe it was indeed Stu who committed the murder. Soon, the NYPD and numerous media outlets are covering this serious situation. Things become increasingly difficult for Stu Shepard as Kelly and Pam both show up. In the meantime, the caller continues to play various mind games, while the sympathetic NYPD Captain Ramey (Twilight Zone's Forest Whitaker) tries to solve the issue. During all of this, Stu tries to maintain his sanity and not risk any more lives. His lies no longer matter. As a result, he must now search his soul, discover himself and attempt to outsmart the caller, taking the game to a whole new level. The cinematography is outstanding. Schumacher uses the right angle for every shot, and manages to keep everyone's attention with quick pans and abrupt cuts. In the end, the 80-minute movie seems longer but not because it is boring. The biggest payoff comes with the twist ending that changes the film's outcome within sixty seconds. There was not one bad performance in Phone Booth. Farrell's ability to convert his Irish brogue to a Brooklyn drawl makes his performance as Bullseye in Daredevil look like a child's school play when compared to the Broadway-level of acting he manages here. While Mitchell and Holmes did not have lengthy parts, their roles added just enough to the story and they managed to perform up to the standards of their characters. Forest Whitaker was a surprisingly great addition to the cast and his role as a sympathetic cop is one that's not often seen, and should thus be welcomed. However, all of these actors are outshined by Kiefer Sutherland, who ends up being extremely creepy and one of the best antagonists in recent movie history by just using his voice. Will this win Best Picture at next year's Academy Awards? It probably won't. However, with a great story, top-notch directing and a cast with great chemistry, what more could you ask for? Out of a possible five stars, I give this the limit of five with desires to go even higher. While I would go see it again and again, not everyone has the same tastes. However, I would put down the $8 for a ticket to see the flick at least once. If nothing else, it will make you stop and think: the next time you enter a phone booth, just who will be watching?