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Phone Booth | Review

Red Dot Special

After a good first round, Schumacher’s sniper film is emptied out of fresh ideas.

After watching Tigerland, I thought that Joel Schumacher was on his way to giving himself a second souffle for a career of forgettable features. Phone Booth’s release got a rough start —the content was a little too close to home for some D.C residents, but the release is now timely camouflaged by the unrelated war in Iraq.

A publicist scumbag Stu (Colin Farrell-The Recruit) becomes the red-dot special of the day as his no-good deeds in life finally catch up to him in the most bizarre predicaments. Reining control over the poor man’s destiny (Kiefer Sutherland-The Lost Boys) is the expert marksman who gives his own rendition of The Police’s hit single ‘Every Breath you Take’.

Basking in the energetic life of a given New York street-corner, the picture’s premise might sound kind of silly sounds interesting, and the initial set-up is fun but after a couple of minutes on the phone the film will lose you. Far less the size of the common Schumacher flick, Phone Booth is a small-scale production that offers a first-half menu of appetizing tense moments and a cocktail of punch-lines and replaces it with an unimaginative mid-course storyline and a boring desert finale. Tragically, the challenges of setting the film and storyline in one location proves to be quite the undertaking for the fashioned filmographer, as we are presented with a Farrell in a phone booth in every imaginable angle shot possible.

The Schumacher alumni and supporting cast of the friendly cop and concerned female friends are mere characterizations that do very little to fascinate. Sutherland gets a little too carried away with this whole Batman’s The Joker persona, and his character never goes further than this decision-maker for the protagonist’s conscious. Farrell who originally passes off as a Wallstreet prick loses all credibility when he turns into a wimp with this ‘thou shall not commit adultery’ submission count. The biggest shortcoming in this picture is the potential for a full-out, witty, roller-coaster ride which never happens because Schumacher makes the viewer get off the boat before the promise of a juicy finale.

With a short run time, Sutherland’s voice and plenty of split screen visuals, this might feel like an episode of ‘24’, but unfortunately the television show has more interesting plot twists than this monotonic toned picture. Stay clear and out of the way of this one.

Rating 1 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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