The Cell (2000) Review: Hauntingly Beautiful, Falls Short
“His Mind Is Her Prison.”
Synopsis: An FBI agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.
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The Cell is compellingly beautiful. The use of lighting and splashes of color are mesmerizing. It’s as though Baz Luhrmann woke up morose one day and decided to direct horror. The sets, the effects, and the costumes – every inch of the dream realities where so much of the movie takes place are entrancing.
I recommend The Cell to people based on that alone. But the plot is also captivating, and provides a nice twist on the usual “use a criminal to catch a criminal” trope. It’s occasionally a little more convoluted than it needs to be and leaves the audience guessing at some things – but it’s never a problem as you go through the movie.
Where The Cell is really lacking is in the acting. Though Vincent D’Onofrio delivers a stellar performance as a truly disturbed serial killer, the rest of the cast is… less than stellar. Jennifer Lopez is always a fairly mediocre actress, and this movie is no exception. And if it was just her, I wouldn’t knock so many points off. But someone, somewhere, in some stroke of idiocy, decided to put Vince Vaughn in a serious thriller.
I love me some Vince Vaughn. But a serious actor he is not. And he’s called on a few too many times in this script to act concerned and deep, and it’s not a level he can reach.
However, most of the action in the movie takes place away from Vince Vaughn. And Jennifer Lopez, though the main character, spends a lot of her time exploring a dreamscape instead of trying to have in-depth conversations. So while The Cell suffers from the choice in actors, it’s not as distracting as it could be.
The tangled web of a serial killer’s disturbed mind makes a perfectly creepy backdrop for a horror flick, and though J-Lo is rarely in danger, it’s easy to empathize with her rising fear as the movie progresses. She’s also racing against the clock to try and save a young girl from death, which adds another layer of tension to an already nerve-wracking situation.
Yes, The Cell would have been a great flick with better actors, but it’s still above average. If you’ve got a soft spot for artistic films, you should definitely give this one a try.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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