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The Cell (2000)

Enter the mind of a killer

Directed by:

Tarsem Singh

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 107 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: Germany, United States

This film is weirder than weird Jack McWeird, the weirdo who runs the weird shop in Weirdsville. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is probably something you’ll need to decide for yourselves, but personally it’s something I can generally do without. I’d much rather see a movie with a well-written script and engaging plot than one that’s technically and visually awesome but with little else going for it. ‘The Cell’, for the most part, falls into the latter category.

Jennifer Lopez plays Catherine Deane, a respected social worker called upon by the FBI to delve, literally, into the mind of a comatose serial-killer (Vincent D’Onofrio). He likes bleaching corpses, dangling from skin-implanted hooks, attacking women in dimly-lit multi-storey car parks and watching people drown. Form an orderly queue, ladies!

Using experimental mind-hopping equipment, J-Lo takes a trip through the psyche of this funster in an attempt to discover the location of his latest abductee – who, somewhere out there, is trapped in a perspex box that’s gradually filling up with water. Beat that, David Blaine!

Vince Vaughn does his best but is woefully miscast as the FBI agent overseeing the whole affair, and most of the rest of the acting on display is only so-so. In fact, much like the distinctly ‘Silence of the Lambs’-esque plot, the performances of the cast take a back seat to the eye-popping (and at times pretty darn unpleasant) imagery on-screen for most of the duration. And, if you think any of it bears more than a passing resemblance to REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ vid, it’s probably because both are the work of Indian director Tarsem Singh.

It's Got: A horse that really needs to pull itself together.

It Needs: To exchange some of its artistic pretensions for a stronger plot and some better characters.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, isolated score, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, trailers, filmographies and interactivites. The “interactivities” section contains, amongst other things, an “empathy test” which told me I have “room for improvement in my emotional intellect”. Shows what they know. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Altered States, The Bone Collector, The Silence of the Lambs

Summary

Visually it’s one of the most inventive pieces of cinema you’re likely to see, but in every other department it’s essentially run-of-the-mill.

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