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Phone Booth (2003)

A movie directed by Joel Schumacher

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Obnoxious Yuppie versus Evil Avenging Angel

  • Jul 14, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+1
You don't know who to root for in this fast-paced modern morality tale, Colin Farrell as the self-absorbed, abusive and manipulative publicist or the murderous and unseen presence voiced by Kieffer Sutherland (with near-perfect syrupy malevelance).

Farrell has a routine that utilizes one of the last freestanding phonebooths in New York City to make the phone calls he doesn't want his wife to know about. Unfortunately for him, a high tech sniper with a penchant for morality judgements is all too familiar with Colin's life and activities and has chosen the phone booth as the place for Colin's redemption or death. For the bulk of the movie, Colin is trapped in the phone booth between the imposing forces of the New York City Police (who believe him to be the murderer of an abusive pimp); and the sniper that threatens to shoot him (as he did the pimp) should he attempt to leave the phone booth. The voice of the shooter does not belong to a lunatic that's merely looking to score an innocent victim or two. He's studied Colin, decided that he's unworthy of living his successful life and determined to reform him or remove him from life's mortal coil.

We see just enough of Colin's character in action during the first ten minutes or so to fully understand that this is one self-absorbed, manipuplative jerk of a human being. But that somewhat begs the question as to whether or not his misdeeds truly warrant the forfeiture of his life and/or the murder of two others. That's the ultimate weakness of a film that aspires to be a powerful psychodrama but only barely reaches the level of a brisk, lightweight thriller.

Forest Whitaker lends a powerful presence as the police captain that tries to talk Colin out of the booth. But his talents are underutilized by a script that gives any worthy dialogue to Sutherland's malevolent voice of persecution.

The filmmakers at least make an attempt to answer the obvious questions like why is an old-fashioned phone booth still standing on an NYC street, and why can't Colin use his cell phone to call get help or explain his predicament to the police. But in the end, questions remain, like why target a philandering publicist, when there are plenty of other evil types that are more deserving of a bullet to the head? So just forget the serious morality and grab a bucket of popcorn. There are worse ways to spend 88 minutes on the couch.

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More Phone Booth (2003) reviews
review by . December 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****      "Phone Booth" is one of the finest thrillers of this past decade. It nearly defines the term "thriller" in ways that, by Joel Schumacher's standards, should by all means be undiscovered. Why is it so good? Why is a Joel Schumacher film good in the first place? Well, I'll make sure to answer your question. The film is so good because it's actually thrilling. It's not every day that you encounter a film which just never stops …
review by . July 23, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
This film has a good cast, solid performances, and an interesting idea to launch the story. Unfortunately, the plot is thin, too short (less than 90 minutes for a live action movie!), and depends mostly upon the verbal dialogue of a character who is not on screen until the last moments of the film. It also has a somewhat dark ending which may disappoint many viewers (though I think the ending is actually creative by not having a feel good resolution). The film can make the viewer begin to think …
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Michael Meredith ()
Ranked #300
Self-styled writer, traveller, philosopher, political pundit, photographer, loving husband, devoted father, grandpa, son, advisor, eBusiness professional. Maybe someday I'll discover what I really … more
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Wiki

By some lucky quirk of fate,Phone Boothlanded on Hollywood's A-list, but this thriller should've been a straight-to-video potboiler directed by its screenwriter, veteran schlockmeister Larry Cohen, who's riffing on his own 1976 thrillerGod Told Me To. Instead it's a pointless reunion for fast-rising star Colin Farrell and hisTigerlanddirector, Joel Schumacher, who employs a multiple-image technique similar to TV's24to energize Cohen's pulpy plot about an unseen sniper (maliciously voiced by24's Kiefer Sutherland) who pins his chosen victim (a philandering celebrity publicist played by Farrell) in a Manhattan phone booth, threatening murder if Farrell doesn't confess his sins (including a potential mistress played by Katie Holmes in a thankless role). In a role originally slated for Jim Carrey, Farrell brings vulnerable intensity to his predicament, but Cohen's irresistible premise is too thin for even 81 brisk minutes, which is how long Schumacher takes to reach his morally repugnant conclusion.--Jeff Shannon
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Details

Director: Joel Schumacher
Screen Writer: Larry Cohen
DVD Release Date: July 8, 2003
Runtime: 81 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
First to Review
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