Chris Evans (Not Another Teen Movie) plays a reluctant hero who altruistically does everything he can to save a woman and her son from kidnappers after he receives her call for help on his cell phone — the only number she could get through to on a broken landline.
We open with Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a resourceful wife and mother from Brentwood — an upscale Los Angeles suburb — being abducted by a crew of bad guys led by Ethan Greer (Jason Statham), who is ambiguously linked to her husband. She’s blindly taken to an off-beat location, threatened, and locked in an attic with nothing but a smashed telephone. Certain the kidnappers have targeted the wrong family — Jessica knows her husband would never be involved in anything illegal — she manages to rebuild the phone well enough to make a call, but only to one number (remember when I mentioned gaping holes in logic? You almost need a bridge.)
Enter Ryan (Chris Evans), a hunky affable surfer-type hung up on regaining the respect of his ex-girlfriend Chloe (Jessica Biel) who finds him shallow and self-centered. Determined to prove his worth, he offers to help Chloe in her charitable efforts by passing out flyers, and is in the process of doing so when he receives Jessica’s call explaining she’s been abducted and asking him to go to the police.
Initially, Ryan thinks the call is a hoax, but quickly changes his mind when he overhears Greer threaten Jessica’s life, the catalyst that sets off a series of action-packed near-misses with the bad guys, whisking us around Los Angeles from Brentwood to LAX to the Santa Monica Pier.
As a stickler for plausibility, I found myself somewhat annoyed with the flagrant disregard for anything grounded in, say, reality… but even so… the heart-pounding car chases, hilarious (albeit ridiculously stereotyped) “peripheral” characters, and Ryan’s likable personality hooked me immediately. I found myself not only going with the flow, but enjoying it immensely.
Chris Evans shines as the all-American hero, rivaled only by William H. Macy’s performance as “Mooney,” an idiosyncratic cop desperately trying to leave behind “cophood” so he can open a day spa with his wife.
The action scenes, coupled with multiple ticking clocks, keep the audience on the edge of their seats, wanting Ryan to succeed as he deals with every possible obstacle—from the aggravating shortcomings of cell phones, to rush hour traffic, to obnoxious, underpaid store clerks.
So if you’re looking for a way to beat the winter blues, throw on your board shorts, invite some hotties (via text message, of course), and pop in Cellular. As long as you don’t question too much, you’ll be thoroughly entertained.