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Phone Booth

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Radha Mitchell, Ron Eldard, Richard T. Jones, Katie Holmes, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Jones

Review by Susan Granger
1 star out of 4

P>If you heard a public phone ringing in a phone booth, would you answer it? I wouldn't, so this ridiculous concept lost me at the getgo. But just suppose you did - and on the other end of the line was a sadistic sniper, a crazed, sharp-shooting lunatic who knew everything about your life and was determined to make you confess all your deceptions. How would you react?

That's the dilemma facing Stu (Colin Farrell), a sleazy, self-absorbed Manhattan publicist who slips into a phone booth at 53rd and 8th to try to make a date with a naive young actress (Katie Holmes). He doesn't use his cellphone because his wife (Rahda Mitchell) might see the bill and be able to trace the call. Moments later, the phone rings and Stu picks it up. The creepy, deranged caller (Kiefer Sutherland) says he intends to kill Stu unless he does what he's told - and to illustrate his ability, the caller blows away a pimp who demands the flack vacate the booth.

Basically, this film is a cinematic stunt, as screenwriter Larry Cohen explores the idea of setting an entire film in a phone booth. The original release date coincided with fatal sniper attacks in and around Washington, D.C. so it was delayed. "Tigerland" director Joel Schumacher once again convincingly guides Irish actor Colin Farrell, who adopts a Brooklyn accent for this sniveling jerk, while Forest Whitaker makes the most of his NYPD role. Kiefer Sutherland's voice is menacing, and he's only glimpsed briefly at the conclusion. Although photographer Matthew Libatique and editor Mark Stevens work to keep the tension taut, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Phone Booth" is a tedious 3. Jim Carrey, Mel Gibson and Will Smith were wise to pass on this lurid project in its early stages. It just doesn't ring true.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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