Jerry and Rachel are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.
Stu Shepard is a fast talking and wise cracking New York City publicist who gets out of trouble and lies with his clever charm, connections, and charisma. Stu's greatest lie is to his wife Kelly, who he is cheating on with his girlfriend, Pam. Upon answering a call in a phone booth in belief it is Pam, Stu is on the line with a dangerous yet intelligent psychopath with a sniper rifle. When realizing it is not a joke, Stu is placed in a powerful mind game of wits and corruption. The New York City Police eventually arrive thereafter and demand Stu comes out of the phone booth- but how can he when if he hangs up or leaves the booth he will die? Written by
Joel Schumacher was the first director attached but dropped out to make Flawless (1999) instead. Mel Gibson was then in line to direct the film but also baled, followed by Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes. They too quit when From Hell (2001) received the green light. Next up was 'Michael Bay' (qv_ who allegedly wanted to open the film up from its confined phone booth setting. By the time he quit, Schumacher had finished shooting Flawless (1999) and was ready to take up the reins again. See more »
Stu's wedding ring disappears and reappears between shots in the scenes leading up to his big speech. See more »
Small scale and slightly flawed but gripping and very enjoyable thriller
Stu Shepherd is in public relations and uses lies and deceit everyday in his job to get things moving. When calling a client from a phone booth in the hope of getting her to a hotel. When he hangs up the phone rings and he answers to what he assumes is a prank call. However the caller reveals more and more about Stu exposing his lies. When Stu tries to leave the caller reveals that he has Stu pinned down with a sniper rifle and the death of a man by the booth proves it. The police arrive and surround Stu while the caller continues his game.
Everyone knows that it had a small budget, a shooting window of just over a week and that it was made years ago and shelved as Farrell's star power increased and real life terrorist attacks and snipers came and went in the media and the mind of the American public. So I'll not dwell on that and instead talk of the film! The pitch was enough to get me interested `man is held in phone box by sniper' sounds great! I really wanted to see this film but was put off by the trailer, but not of the films I saw wrong in the trailer were to the detriment of the film as over 80-odd minutes it really runs like a race horse.
Starting with humour and a free-flowing pace it turns sinister early on but keeps the pace. In terms of plot it has many good twists and turns that will keep you interested and on the edge of your seat. The only issue for me was accepting why the sniper was doing it and how he was able to get access to the equipment he would have needed as well as the information not to mention the WILL to do it! Also little things bugged me, but the film carries itself over these obstacles well enough and reservations are soon forgotten. It sounds simple but the simple ideas work best and, although low on action (sorry, teen boys!) it is driven by dialogue and simply not knowing what will come next.
The direction helps the film by constantly moving and using split screens etc to give the impression that a lot is going on at once again making the film feel like it has a fast pace. It feels a little gimmicky (especially now that we've had 2 series of 24 doing the same thing) but it works regardless. I wrote in an old review (8mm I think) that I would never pay to see a Joel Schumacher film ever again, and I DIDN'T pay to see Phone Booth! However I was surprised because he didn't ruin it! He did a good job yes, you heard me! His usual excesses seem to have been controlled by a good producer and editing team and the film works much to my surprise and relief!
Farrell may not be a bona-fide Hollywood star yet but he takes the task of being onscreen for almost the whole film and runs with it. He makes a comically cruel character someone that reveals himself to be a loser but never loses the audience and that takes talent. Sutherland's voice on the trailer didn't work for me (too normal and slow) but in the film he is excellent, like the director said, no-one else could have done the role, he is right for it. Whitaker makes up the third lead and he holds his corner well.
It may not be without the odd flaw but this film manages to be simple, gripping and very effective. Well worth a look.
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