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Cellular is a 2004 action thriller film, directed by David R. Ellis and starring Kim Basinger and Chris Evans. The screenplay was written by Chris Morgan, Larry Cohen, and J. Mackye Gruber, the latter having also scripted Phone Booth, another film that evolves from a phone call.


Mysterious assailants kidnap high school biology teacher Jessica Martin and confine her in the attic of their safe house. Ethan, the gang leader, smashes the attic's telephone to prevent her from contacting anyone. She has no idea who the kidnappers are or what they want. She pieces together the broken phone and randomly makes a connection. She reaches the cell phone of Ryan who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Chloe, for being too irresponsible. He believes the call is a joke, but Jessica persuades him to go to the police. At the police station, desk sergeant Mooney tells him to go to the detectives on the fourth floor. He begins to lose the signal in the stairwell, so he turns back to avoid losing the connection.

Meanwhile, Ethan tells Jessica that he is going to get her husband and son. Ryan, who overhears them, is now convinced that the kidnapping is real. After Ethan leaves, she tells Ryan to get to her son's school before they do. Unfortunately, he is too late and her son, Ricky, is kidnapped. Ryan hijacks a security officer's car and gives chase. Because his cell phone's battery is dying, he drives to a shop for a charger. After being repeatedly redirected from counter to counter, he uses a gun from the security vehicle to hold up the store and get the charger.

Sgt. Mooney meanwhile decides to check on the kidnapping claim that he received. He uses the DMV records to find the address of Jessica, but when he comes to her house, a woman meets him, telling him that she is Jessica and that everything is fine. Believing it to be a false alarm, he leaves. It is revealed that the woman is Dana Bayback, an accomplice of the kidnappers.

Ethan imprisons Ricky in the garage and threatens to kill him if Jessica does not tell him where her husband is. She tells him that he is at a bar in LAXmarker. As Ethan leaves, she tells Ryan that they have gone to get her husband. A cross-connection between phone lines causes Ryan to grab a nearby lawyer's cell phone as well as his car after his is destroyed. Jessica tells him to find her husband, and at the airport, he tries to stop the kidnappers by planting the gun under one of their jackets. The gun trips the alarm and security intervenes, but the kidnappers flash police badges and soon apprehend Craig. After viewing a news report, Mooney identifies Ryan and calls Jessica's home. When he gets the voice mail, he notices that Jessica's voice on the answering machine is different from the woman he met.

Craig is brought into the attic and forced to reveal the location of a videotape. He tells them that it is in a bank safe deposit box. Ethan and his friends, Dimitri and Deason, go with Craig while another kidnapper stays on guard. Ryan also reaches the bank, and when the kidnappers retrieve the video-camera, Ryan grabs it, and flees to the roof. However, he accidentally drops the cell phone off the roof, smashing it to pieces. He manages to escape in a taxi, and while watching the videotape learns that Craig accidentally shot footage of LAPD Detectives Ethan, Mad Dog, Dimitri, Bayback, Deason, and Jack Tanner, a friend of Officer Mooney, robbing and murdering drug dealers. Ryan steals the lawyer's car again and gets back his own cellphone.

Mooney returns to the Martin residence, where Bayback shoots at him, injuring him. He retaliates and kills her, but learns to his dismay that she was a cop, too. Meanwhile, Mad Dog stumbles upon the phone line Jessica is using from the downstairs phone, and Jessica kills him by cutting his brachial artery. She attempts to escape with her son, but Ethan returns with Craig as a hostage and stops her. Before Ethan can do anything, Ryan uses his cell phone's memory to contact Ethan and makes a deal directly over the phone: the video tape in exchange for the Martin family. Upon learning of the meeting, Tanner convinces Mooney to go so that he can identify Ryan.

The deal goes down at the Santa Monica Piermarker. Ryan tries to handle it his way in disguise, but his ex-girlfriend accidentally exposes him, after which Mooney is able to finger him. While Tanner sends Dimitri to help Mooney get needed medical attention, he takes Ryan to Ethan. Ethan destroys the video recording and Tanner radios the order to kill the Martins, although Deason in the van suggests to wait until they get to the safe house. However, Mooney overhears the radio transmission from Dimitri's radio and he realizes that Tanner is one of the kidnappers. Ryan escapes following a distraction by his friend Chad, while Dmitri attempts to kill Mooney, but Mooney overpowers and handcuffs him. Tanner and Ethan confront Ryan in a boathouse, where Ryan knocks out Tanner, but Ethan beats him up with his superior fighting skills until Mooney intervenes. After a brief cat and mouse game, Ryan, wounded, notices that Ethan has circled behind Mooney, and helps Mooney by calling Ethan's cell phone. The ring of the cell betrays Ethan's hiding place, and Mooney promptly shoots him dead.

While this was going on, Jessica manages to strangle Deason with her handcuff chain from the rear of their van, then frees her husband and son. But Deason was merely stunned, and aims his gun at them. Then Ryan suddenly intervenes and smashes him around till he is unconscious.

While Ryan and Mooney are being treated by medics, Tanner is also exposed, because Ryan had made a copy of the videocam recording onto his cell phone, and the Martin family is set free. Jessica finally gets to meet the man who has risked his life saving her and her family. Ryan's only request is that she is never to call him again.



Cellular was filmed in Southern California, most notably in Santa Monica, Westwood, downtown L.A. and west Los Angeles. Peter Sarsgaard turned down the role of Ethan (and would portray a similar role a year later in Flightplan), making this film Jason Statham's first film as a villain.

Box office

The film has had gross receipts of $32,003,620 in the U.S. and Canada and $24,419,067 in international markets for a total of $56,422,687 worldwide.

Home video

Cellular was released worldwide in widescreen on DVD along with the VHS format on January 18, 2005.


The film inspired a 2008 Chinese language remake by director Benny Chan. The film, Connected, stars Barbie Hsu and Louis Koo in the Basinger and Evans roles respectively. A Bollywood remake of this film called Speed was released in India in 2007 starring Urmila Matondkar, Zyed Khan, Sanjay Suri but despite including an ensemble cast, did not succeed like the original.


  1. Cellular Filming Locations

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