Stu Shepard is in big trouble; he answered the phone. Set entirely around a phone booth in a seedy part of New York City, PHONE BOOTH is a high-tension thriller that keeps the viewer nailed to his seat for its entire eighty plus minutes.
Irishman Colin Farrell does an excellent job of portraying a sleazy professional spin-doctor public relations man who basically lies for a living. Though Stu has a trainee-assistant who trails him around with a Palm Pilot and cell phone, while he talks on one himself, he dismisses his assistant while stopping to talk on one of the few remaining phone booths in New York.
After Stu finishes his call, the phone immediately rings and a stranger begins to control his life, all through the phone and the sights of a silenced, high powered rifle! The sniper dramatically convinces Stu that he will kill him if he hangs up the phone.
Director Joel Schumacher, (LOST BOYS, BATMAN & ROBIN, and TIGERLAND) does a masterful job of holding the viewer’s interest for such a long time at one single location. It was a curiosity to see if the story, location, direction, and acting could carry the story of one man in a phone booth. . . and they do.
As the movie progresses, Stu tries to use all his verbal spin-doctor skills to sway his release, vacillating between anger and fear, but the sniper kills a man near the phone booth. Stu is accused of the murder and surrounded by police. . . with their own sharp shooters! Forest Whitaker does a credible job of a police captain trying to control the very unusual standoff he faces.
As the media gathers, ironically giving Stu-the-PR-man the worst kind of publicity, the mysterious sniper makes Stu confess his sins to all onlookers, his wife and would-be mistress, lest, unbeknownst to them, he kills them all with God-like impudence. Stu is emotionally stripped bare for all to see, as he tries to cajole, trick and reason with his soon-to-be executioner. The sniper (voiced by Keifer Sutherland, with a brief on-camera cameo) tells Stu he is “guilty of inhumanity to man” and “the sin of spin,” and that he is being punished for these sins. . . though the sniper is in no way religious.
PHONE BOOTH is a real nail-biter, and delivers as promoted. Colin Farrell, (now filming ALEXANDER THE GREAT, as Alexander) is fast becoming a true star, as his range of emotions displayed in this movie proves. Stu does see the error of his lying, spin doctoring, (did we say lying?) ways, and even makes up with his wife, promising to change.
Regrettably, however, like many police dramas, PHONE BOOTH is marred by an ongoing barrage of foul language. The other major problem with the movie is relating to Stu, who, for the most part, is a detestable person who’s being threatened by an even more detestable human being. There are some bloody scenes, but nothing worse than prime-time TV. A mature moviegoer, not easily affected by language, could probably enjoy the movie, but PHONE BOOTH is definitely not recommended for younger audiences due to its mature themes. MOVIEGUIDE®, therefore, recommends extreme caution.
Please address your comments to:
Peter Chernin, Chairman & CEO
The Fox Group
Tom Rothman & Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. & News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
SUMMARY: In PHONE BOOTH, a man accidentally answers a ringing phone, and the psycho with a high-powered rifle on the other end of the line suddenly begins controlling his life. Great suspense and excellent acting are marred by some deplorable language and violence.
(Ro, B, C, LLL, VV, S, D, M) Light Romantic worldview with relativistic, emotion-based, spur-of-the-moment moral decisions made, and light secondary moral and redemptive Christian elements extolling truth, repentance, self-sacrifice, and marital fidelity at the end; about 30 mostly strong obscenities and profanities; violence includes death by rifle fire, bloody body throat cut by carpet knife, and fighting; no sex or nudity depicted but man considers cheating on his wife and scantily-clad women are portrayed; smoking; and, lying and deception rebuked.