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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

"My two-thousand dollar watch is fake, and so am I," Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is forced to confess to all of the New York television cameras trained on the phone booth where he is holed up. Although everyone watching on their TV sets thinks that he is a crazed killer, in reality, he is trapped by a hidden sniper who won't let him tell hang up the phone or tell anything about the sniper's existence. Forest Whitaker plays the sympathetic police captain who tries to negotiate Stu's surrender.

PHONE BOOTH, an efficient and effective thriller about a moral vigilante, directed by Joel Schumacher (8MM), may have plenty of schlock-filled moments, but I bet you'll be on the edge of your seat for all of its adrenaline-pumping 81 minutes. It does for phone booths what SPEED did for buses, turning them into very scary places.

Stu is a lie-a-minute publicist who is brought to the emotional edge by a man known only as The Caller (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland from "24"). In addition to the usual business prevarications, Stu hasn't been telling the truth to either his beautiful wife (Radha Mitchell) or his gorgeous young girlfriend (Katie Holmes). The Caller forces him to fix that.

Picture-in-picture, a trick from the video world, usually proves to be just a distraction in films. But Schumacher uses it quite effectively in PHONE BOOTH, enabling him to stay with the booth while simultaneously showing the action elsewhere.

If Schumacher ever comes out with a longer, director's cut of PHONE BOOTH, don't waste your time watching it. The short length of this current version is perfect in maintaining the tension without ever lapsing into tedium.

Grab a box of popcorn and prepare to be entertained by PHONE BOOTH. And, if you have any stock in a payphone company, you may want to dump it now, before too many viewers see PHONE BOOTH.

PHONE BOOTH runs a fast 1:21. It is rated R for "pervasive language and some violence" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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