Friday, 8 March 2013

Phone Booth (2003)

Who you gonna call?

Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is a brash, cynical, and self-centered public relations man who juggles a busy career with both a wife, Kelly (Radha Mitchell), and a mistress, Pamela (Katie Holmes). Stu steps into a phone booth on a busy New York street to make a call to Pamela without Kelly being the wiser, but as soon as Stu hangs up, the phone begins to ring. Curious, Stu picks it up -- and a stranger on the other end (Kiefer Sutherland's voice) informs him that if he hangs up the phone, he'll be shot.


It's an understatement to say that Joel Schumacher is not a popular man. His over the top, campy takes on Batman have left him scorned by legions of Bat fans, and films like The Number 23, Twelve and Trespass have done nothing to remind people of how good he can actually be.

Colin Farrell delivers one of the best performances of his career, putting so much emotion into his performance, helping to make this situation seem more believable, and successfully managing to develop his character from an unlikable ass who wants to prove how great he is to a sympathetic character who you want to survive this ordeal, with his standout scene being the monologue for his wife in front of the TV cameras.

Telemarketers were going to extreme lengths
to not be ignored

Kiefer Sutherland actually only appears in person for less than a minute, but you can definitely sense his presence lurking over Stu, ready to strike with the rifle he holds in his hands. Sutherland's voice manages to be unsettling and chilling, yet calm at the same time, suiting this unseen villain much more than the shouting Sutherland we know from 24.

The film doesn't get good until Stu Shepherd actually gets that call, as before that, we are introduced a number of one-note and poorly done characters whom we won't see again and don't care about, in a sequence that seems to have no more of a need than to highlight how much of an asshole Stu really is. Perhaps this was necessary for Stu to develop so we can care about him being trapped in this situation, but it could've been better written.

Phone Booth is a tight, quick-paced and suspensful thriller that is highlighted by a brilliant performance from Colin Farrell. You may have doubts about this film after hearing Joel Schumacher helmed this, but rest assured, Falling Down was not a fluke, and this proves it.

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