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By Ian Grey | Posted 9/15/2004

Itís sadly notable when you can say an American studio release is not awful and not worry about saying three Our Fathers next Sunday. Despite some dumbification, Cellularís not only Not Awful, but itís one-third nifty nail-biter. Wealthy math teacher (?) Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) gets mistakenly kidnapped by thugs threatening to whack her tyke unless she shares some info she doesnít have. Using a smashed but operational phone, she reaches the cell of an everyhunk stranger named Ryan (Chris Evans), whose mission it becomes to save the distressed lady. Meanwhile, a near-retirement cop, Mooney (William H. Macy), stumbles onto the corruption conspiracy powering all the above. Marred by obtrusive product placement and the near-sadistic roughing up of Jessica, there are entire stretches when Cellular achieves the seemingly paradoxical breeziness particular to old-school thrillers: a sense of play and abandon amid the goofball contrivance.

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