109. Phone Booth (2002)

Who knew taking a phone call could make an entire film?

8/10
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Larry Cohen
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker

Prank calls with sniper rifles aren't so great

Thrillers can often get caught up in changing locations too often, intertwining subplots in knots and over-doing the action sequences. Phone Booth, on the other hand, is refreshingly simple. One location, two central characters and a compelling sense of risk that keeps us on the line.

Stu (Farrell) is a savvy PR guy who has never had to feel indebted to anyone as his swish looks and connections with the media make him desired and admirable to needy interns and desperate celebrity wannabes. But when Stu gets into a lonely phone booth to call up an actress he’s been flirting with, he picks up a call that will turn his world upside down. A sniper has his gun pointed at Stu, and if he so much as hangs up or pisses the mysterious psycho off, anyone around him could die.

While the central concept behind Phone Booth is original and effective in its simplicity, the film’s plot only peaks with momentary surprises and twists that don’t necessarily lead to higher stakes. Nevertheless, as Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland deliver the scripted dialogue of Phone Booth with perfectly measured levels of dramatic tension and conviction, this taut thriller moves away from the contrived and overly dramatized flick that it could have been. The film is economic in its use of action, and manages to hold our attention to the end despite being limited to the space of a rather dirty looking phone booth in New York city. Had the ending been less disappointing, we may have considered a redial.

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