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Phone Booth (2002)

Colin Farrell hangin’ on the telephone

Directed by:

Joel Schumacher

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 80 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

First off, an almighty slap on the back is due to director Joel Schumacher for providing us with something all too rare these days – a genuinely daring and original idea, expertly executed and enjoyably performed. Unfortunately, for all that, “Phone Booth” never quite lives up to its early promise.

Colin Farrell, or “bad boy Colin Farrell” as we're obliged to call him these days, plays slimy NY publicist Stu Shepard. Stu finds himself in a bit of a pickle when, after answering a ringing phone in a public call booth, becomes the target of a hidden sniper watching his every move. What's worse is this mystery assassin – voiced by Kiefer Sutherland adopting a particularly wicked cackle – knows all of Stu's deep dark secrets and is none too impressed. Forest Whitaker is the twitchy-eyed detective trying to talk Stu out of the booth, Radha Mitchell the confused wife and Katie Holmes the ridiculously naive bit-on-the-side.

Farrell produces a terrific performance in the lead role, and Schumacher directs with no shortage of flair, but what would be a wonderful premise for a short film doesn't quite have enough substance to pull off the feature length treatment. There's little to the tale that isn't shown in the original trailer, and the end twist is a damp squib – you'll see it coming a mile off. What's more, though undeniably sleazy and a bit shifty, Stu never really comes across as a nasty enough character to merit such treatment.

It's Got: Several similarities to TV’s "24" – not just the presence of Sutherland, but also the "real time" unfolding of events and the use of split screen visuals to keep us up-to-date with what’s happening in different locations.

It Needs: More thrills and a better ending.

Alternatives:

24 (on TV), The Recruit.

Summary

A clever idea that’s never quite as good as you want it to be.