CELL Phon­ing it in

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased 26 au­gust 15 | 98 min­utes

Di­rec­tor tod Williams Cast John Cu­sack, sa­muel l Jack­son, Is­abelle Fuhrman

You know there’s some­thing wrong with a film when you be­come ob­sessed with a hat.

In this adap­ta­tion of Stephen King’s 2006 novel, a mys­te­ri­ous sig­nal turns mo­bile users into homi­ci­dal, hive-mind “Phon­ers”. At the height of civil­i­sa­tion’s nose­dive into chaos, John Cu­sack’s hero takes time out to pull on a black beanie, then spends the rest of the movie ran­domly tak­ing it on and off. A bit of prop “busi­ness”? Cold head? Cov­er­ing up for an oper­a­tion?

Who knows, but for much of the du­ra­tion it’s the most in­trigu­ing ques­tion here. Cell has its mo­ments: the orig­i­nal out­break is fe­ro­cious, and a se­quence that in­volves torch­ing a play­ing field full of sleep­ing Phon­ers is mem­o­rably bizarre. But the script re­peat­edly falls to ad­e­quately ex­plain key plot el­e­ments, with frus­trat­ingly in­co­her­ent re­sults. When they’re not stand­ing around open-mouthed, emit­ting strange static noises, the Phon­ers’ twitchy chore­og­ra­phy is of­ten com­i­cal. And the id­iocy of the cen­tral char­ac­ters – who ap­par­ently never check to see if the in­ter­net still works, and who, on dis­cov­er­ing that Phon­ers ba­si­cally power down at dusk, fail to con­sider only trav­el­ling at night – is kinda in­fu­ri­at­ing. Calvin Bax­ter

Toxic Avenger di­rec­tor Lloyd Kauf­man has a cameo – he’s in the air­port se­quence, wear­ing a Hawai­ian shirt.

The Scot­tish sum­mer was un­usu­ally warm.

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