Cell- Film Review
“Cell”, a movie adoption of a Stephen King novel, brings into real life a generic fear imprinted on the minds of most parents. The fear that someday, eventually their teenage son or daughter who usually has their eyes glued to a cellphone screen, will succumb to a zombie-like state and walk off a cliff in utter distraction as their minds stay occupied by frivolous images and texts on a small illuminated screen.
The movie directed by Todd Williams, revolves around the very thin story line that a cell phone transmission or pulse causes mass hysteria after which people mysteriously lose all cognitive functions and turn into zombies. The movie starts off when Clay (John Cusack) is in the Boston airport talking on the phone to his ex-wife, and suddenly he looks up and sees masses of people go insane. One after another, people are having seizures, and then they start to attack each other, with bare hands or weapons (a cook comes at Clay with a kitchen knife), or to attack themselves (a girl smashes her teeth against the wall). Clay, trying to escape, ducks into the airport shuttle, where he finds a handful of survivors along with the shuttle driver Tom (Samuel L. Jackson). The moment is supposed to be a respite, but it actually seems more unhinged than anything that’s come before, because no one even says a line like “What’s happening?” or “Why are people frothing at the mouth like zombies?” they just casually accept their circumstances and plan a plot to escape.
Joining them on their journey is Alice (Isabelle Furhman), Clay’s shell-shocked neighbuor who has just killed her infected mother, and Jordan (Owen Teague), the sharpest kid in a prep school whose entire student body has become phoners (the term used to describe the zombies). Rounding out the crew of survivors is Jordan’s headmaster, played by Stacy Keach.
Although I am quite tempted to give spoilers on the dark-humoured scenes where the crew fights off the phoners, viewing the movie will be the actual spoiling experience. I can only describe watching Cell as a traumatic experience, no really, the 98 minutes I spent watching this film was dreadful because it quite easily qualifies as the worst film I have seen this year.
I say this for two reasons. First we start off with the elements of cinematography, the CGI (computer generated imagery) is a joke. In a scene inside the airport, Clay ducks down as an airplane malfunctions whilst taking off. The depiction of this imagery looks as though someone threw a toy plane into the sky and torched it with a lighter. Then there are dark clouds of smoke emitting from buildings which look quite motionless. This plastic scenery also sticks out like a sore thumb.
Secondly, the editing and directing could have been better. The ending is as ambiguous as a politician’s speech, it would leave most audiences dumbfounded, the film is so rushed and unclear in its detail about the pulse and its aftermath. The concept of humankind turning into one enormous mobile hot-spot for use by an evil mastermind, has legs. It’s too bad “Cell” cuts the idea off at the knee.
The redeeming aspect of the movie is that characterization is good, Samuel L. Jackson plays a cynical old man who speaks in monotone and has the vacant stare of cattle at anyone’s attempt at humour. The rest of the cast brings emotion and sentimentality to the film creating a good conveyance of disbelief.
Despite much potential in the theme, Cell fails to develop, staying flat and violent. It is not worth watching.