|Cellular is a 2004 thriller film directed by David R. Ellis and starring Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, Jason Statham and William H. Macy. The screenplay was written by Chris Morgan, Larry Cohen (who also scripted Phone Booth, another film that evolves from a phone call) and J. Mackye Gruber (not credited).|
The film opens with Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a high school biology teacher, talking to her son Ricky, while escorting him to the school bus. After she returns home, mysterious assailants enter her home through the back door, kill her house maid, kidnap her and confine her in the attic of their safe house. Ethan (Jason Statham), the gang leader, smashes the attic’s telephone to prevent her from contacting anyone. She has no idea who the kidnappers are or what they want. She pieces together the broken phone and randomly makes a connection. She reaches the cell phone of Ryan (Chris Evans), who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Chloe (Jessica Biel), for being too irresponsible. He believes the call is a joke, but Jessica persuades him to go to the police. At the police station, desk sergeant Mooney (William H. Macy) tells him to go to the detectives on the fourth floor. He begins to lose the signal in the stairwell, so he turns back to avoid losing the connection.
Meanwhile, Ethan returns to the safehouse and asks Jessica for something she doesn’t know about. When Jessica tells him that she doesn’t know, he tells her that he is going to get her son. Ryan, who overhears them, is now convinced that the kidnapping is real. After Ethan leaves, she tells Ryan to reach her son’s school before they do. Unfortunately, he is too late and her son is kidnapped. Ryan hijacks a security officer’s car and gives chase. Because his cell phone’s battery is dying, he drives to a shop for a charger. After being repeatedly redirected from counter to counter, he uses a gun from the security vehicle to hold up the store and get the charger.
Sgt. Mooney meanwhile decides to check on the kidnapping claim that he received. He uses the Department of Motor Vehicles records to find the address of Jessica, but when he comes to her house, a woman meets him, telling him that she is Jessica and that everything is fine. Believing it to be a false alarm, he leaves. It is revealed that the woman is Dana Bayback (Valerie Cruz), an accomplice of the kidnappers.
Ethan returns to the safe house and asks Jessica for the location of a place called “The Left Field”, where her husband was. He reveals that he has Ricky and threatens to kill him if Jessica does not tell him what “The Left Field” means. She tells him that “The Left Field” is a bar in Los Angeles International Airport. As Ethan leaves, she tells Ryan that they have gone to get her husband. A cross-connection between phone lines causes Ryan to grab a nearby lawyer’s cell phone as well as his car after his is destroyed. Jessica urges him to find her husband, and at the airport, he tries to stop the kidnappers by planting the gun under one of their jackets. The gun trips the alarm and security intervenes, but the kidnappers flash police badges and soon apprehend Craig. After viewing a news report, Mooney identifies Ryan and calls Jessica’s home. When he gets the voice mail, he notices that Jessica’s voice on the answering machine is different from that of the woman he met.
Craig is brought into the attic and is forced to reveal the location of a videotape. He tells them that it is in a bank safe deposit box. Ethan and his friends, Dimitri and Deason, go with Craig while another kidnapper stays on guard. Ryan also reaches the bank, and when the kidnappers retrieve the video camera, Ryan grabs it, and flees to the roof. However, he accidentally drops the cell phone off the roof, smashing it to pieces. He manages to escape in a taxi, and while watching the videotape learns that Craig accidentally shot footage of Los Angeles Police Department Detectives Ethan, Mad Dog, Dimitri, Bayback, Deason, and Jack Tanner, a friend of Officer Mooney, robbing and murdering drug dealers. Ryan steals the lawyer’s car again and gets back his own cellphone.
Mooney returns to the Martin residence, where Bayback shoots at him, injuring him. He retaliates and kills her but learns, to his dismay, that she was a cop too. Meanwhile, Mad Dog stumbles upon the phone line Jessica is using from the downstairs phone, and Jessica kills him by cutting his brachial artery. She attempts to escape with her son, but Ethan returns with Craig as a hostage and stops her. Before Ethan can do anything, Ryan uses his cell phone’s memory to contact Ethan and makes a deal directly over the phone: the video tape in exchange for the Martin family. Upon learning of the meeting, Tanner convinces Mooney to go so that he can identify Ryan.
The deal goes down at the Santa Monica Pier. Ryan tries to handle it his way in disguise, but his ex-girlfriend accidentally exposes him, after which Mooney is able to finger him. While Tanner sends Dimitri to help Mooney get needed medical attention, he takes Ryan to Ethan. Ethan destroys the video recording and Tanner radios the order to kill the Martins, although Deason in the van suggests they wait until they get to the safe house.
However, Mooney overhears the radio transmission from Dimitri’s radio and he realizes that Tanner is one of the kidnappers. Ryan escapes following a distraction by his friend Chad, while Dmitri attempts to kill Mooney, but Mooney overpowers and handcuffs him. Tanner and Ethan confront Ryan in a boathouse, where Ryan knocks out Tanner, but Ethan beats him up with his superior fighting skills until Mooney intervenes. After a brief cat and mouse game, Ryan, wounded, notices that Ethan has circled behind Mooney, and helps Mooney by calling Ethan’s cell phone. The ring of the cell betrays Ethan’s hiding place, and Mooney promptly shoots him dead. As Ethan falls, he looks dumbfoundedly at Ryan…and then at Ryan’s cell phone “weapon” that got him killed.
Meanwhile, Jessica manages to strangle Deason with her handcuff chain from the rear of their van, then frees her husband and son. But Deason was merely stunned, and aims his gun at them. Then, Ryan suddenly intervenes and smashes him around till he is unconscious.
While Ryan and Mooney are being treated by medics, Tanner is also exposed, because Ryan had made a copy of the video recording onto his cell phone, and the Martin family is set free. Jessica finally gets to meet the man who has risked his life saving her and her family. Ryan’s only request is that she is never to call him again.