Apr 092003
Authors: Eric Todd Patton

A single phone booth on the corner of 50th and 8th in New York City is the center of intense drama and a location that has become a place of moral cleansing for one conflicted sniper.

Colin Farrell, the fast-talking, vulgar, womanizing Irishman that is sweeping through Hollywood, stars in this fast-paced film that was shelved after the sniper shootings in the Washington D.C. area.

Farrell plays wanna-be high stakes agent Stu Shepard who lies and manipulates to get ahead in his business. After arriving at a phone booth he walks by every day of his life, the phone rings and Shepard is compelled to answer.

By answering the phone, Shepard’s life is forever changed. The man on the other end of the line threatens Shepard’s life, forcing Shepard to see the immoral decisions he has made everyday of his life. As he strives to get Shepard to be truthful with himself, he grabs Shepard’s attention by shooting another man.

This man dies in the street, amongst screaming and outraged hookers, which starts a circus of media and police. From here, director Joel Schumacher does not let you go.

I was skeptical going into this film, trying desperately to figure out how a screenwriter and a director were going to be able to make a self-centered man stuck in a phone booth interesting. What could he and the sniper talk about to keep my interest?

Well, whatever they talked about, it worked. I was hooked from the very beginning shot moving out of the Earth, into a satellite and into New York City. But besides the riveting dialogue screenwriter Larry Cohen, this film proved what I have been predicting since “Tigerland.” Farrell is the best up-and-coming actor today.

This was a dialogue driven piece. The drama can only suffice for so long. The conversation is what held this up and Farrell was the one that had to make it work. He has proven he is not only a leading man, but he can hold a film almost entirely on his own.

The supporting actor, or supporting voice for that matter, is Kiefer Sutherland, a veteran to the small and big screen. He has transformed his voice into a numbing and haunting tone that seems to put the audience on edge. It is his voice that I feel is threatening, not the rifle.

Forrest Whitaker, the director of “Hope Floats” and the actor from “Panic Room” and “The Crying Game,” is the police negotiator that needs to talk Shepard out of the booth. Katie Holmes makes an appearance as the wanna-be starlet that Shepard wants to sleep with. These two roles could have been played by anyone. Holmes and Whitaker did not lend anything to or keep anything from the film.

Come the end of the film, it taught the lessons of morality and self-awareness while exploring the notions righteousness. Who is the blemish on society? Who is the righteous man, if righteousness even exists? It ends up turning your mind around and ending like we would all hope it would. Great acting by Farrell, great voice from Sutherland, Schumacher is an outstanding director and Cohen’s script could not keep you more on edge.

Starring: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forrest Whitaker and Katie Holmes.

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

What You Need To Know: A surprising and pleasing script from Larry Cohen.


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