Directed by Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Flatliners, 8MM), Phone Booth is one of those rare mainstream movies that feature an original idea. I mean, it’s right there in the title, a guy is held captive in a public phone booth and must negotiate his way out of this situation. The story unfolds in real time offering an exciting atmosphere and a solid script. However, it would be all for naught if it weren’t for Colin Farrell who carried this movie ’till the end. Apart from him, we’ve also got Forest Whitaker and Kiefer Sutherland to make things even more legit.
Although Phone Booth was released in 2002, it still feels like a nineties movie. There’s something about the way it goes about setting up the story and that feeling of righteousness in the air. And all of that is sprinkled with just a little bit of those magical neo-noir sprinkles. You should also know that the runtime of this movie is just 75 minutes. That’s almost like an episode of your favorite television show. So, you can watch this movie on those nights when you’re looking for something short, fast, and exciting.
At its heart, Phone Booth is a hostage situation movie like Dog Day Afternoon, Cadillac Man, Mad City, and many others. I bet they went: okay, we want to make a hostage situation but set it in the smallest possible room, anybody got any ideas? And actually, that’s what happened. Writer Larry Cohen pitched the idea to Alfred Hitchcock in the 1960s. However, the two of them could not figure out the rest of the story. If you haven’t checked out Hitchcock’s Rope, now’s the perfect time.
Stuart “Stu” Shepard is a douchebag publicist, living life in the great city of New York. Like all industry men of that age, he’s cheating on his wife and spends most of his time being an arrogant dick. As he enters a phone booth to make a call, a pizza delivery guy asks if he wants free pizza but he insults him instead of receiving a free pizza. This is when the phone rings and Stu learns that a psychopath with a sniper rifle has him in his crosshairs.
It’s funny to think that Michael Bay considered directing Phone Booth and the first thing he asked was how could they get Colin out of the phone booth. Fucking brilliant. I think that this movie perfectly demonstrates that all you need for a good movie is a good script. Okay, okay, perhaps a good director and cast are also in the mix but you know what I mean. The filming process took only ten days and the budget was just $13 million. Compare this to some of the shitty blockbusters in theaters today and you’ll see the difference.
Finally, I wonder how this movie is going to feel like in 20 years time. I think that by that time, the phone booths will completely disappear from our lives. So, we’ll have the new generation watching Colin operate this archaic contraption they’ve never seen in their life.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Larry Cohen
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes, Richard T. Jones
Fun Facts: The phone booth was in working order and Colin actually talked to a real person over the phone. This helped the movie to feel more genuine.