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Synopsis: Within the confines of an abandoned rural farmhouse, Carl Stargher, a psychologically disturbed killer has built The Cell, a glass-encased chamber where he drowns his innocent female victims before continuing a sadistic post-mortem ritual with their bodies. As the FBI finally closes in on the killer, he is rendered comatose by a violent seizure and is ultimately apprehended into their custody, but not before leaving his latest victim alive in The Cell with only forty hours to live. Unfortunately, only Stargher knows where she is. Enter Catherine Deane. Deane, a child therapist, is part of an advanced neurological study at the Campbell Center, a research division of a large pharmaceutical company, where she's been using her empathetic abilities along with breakthrough technology to enter into the mind of a catatonic young boy to help bring him back to his loving parents. While FBI agents Peter Novak and his partner Gordon Ramsey follow clues to uncover the missing girl's whereabouts, the FBI enlist Catherine to use her "gift" to embark on an uncharted and perilous journey through Stargher's demented mind.
The Cell is a fascinating failure of a movie. For every stellar and unique visual, there seems to be a downside and slip-up in terms of story-telling. While it should come as no surprise that the director Tarsem Singh is straight of the MTV world of video directing this should not be viewed as a downside. Look at David Fincher, or Spike Jonze, these guys however, know how to use visuals to emphasize key aspects of their story telling while Singh seems content to simply have oddities for oddities sake. Obviously that is generalizing...some moments MUST be relevant to the story...but the fact remains is that it becomes too much after awhile, a distraction from the emotions and players involved within the tale.
However, if it were not for some of these visuals, the movie wouldn't be as interesting to watch because as the plot does evolve, it becomes, well, silly, stratching the audiences suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. It seems rather telling that a movie that seems so interested in delving into the human mind assumes the audience doesn't have much of one.
The weird thing is, for all the noteworthy elements to trash here, Jennifer Lopez took some bashing for her performance, and the rumour mill was flying saying that she whispered her performance throughout the film. Now I either have super hearing (which I don't) or that is just a stupid, uninformed slash at the lady. I'm going to have to go with the uniformed slashy thing. I mean, she does talk in a sensitive and calming voice, but she's a bloody child thearapist and has to reason with the rantings of a serial killer within his cerbral cortex...I mean, not really the place for her 'outside voice' is it? Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of J.Lo's but she gives a solid enough performance here and the fault of the movie is not hers.
Vince Vaughan though...what the hell? You get Vince Vaughan for your movie and you give him a small role...which he excels in...but still...someone start casting this man in some A-List material with a good hard driving F.B.I. background or C.I.A. killer for higher thing and watch the bucks flow in.
Another plus for this rather mediocre art-house serial killer flick...Vincent D'Onfrio. The man is amazing. Another in the long line of rare character actors. This guy can do it all, and like Jon Turturro, remain disguised in the role without ever making you think, ah, there's good ol' Vince acting again.
So, this is not a waste of a time, just not one of those great re-watchable films. Once, twice maybe..and then move onto better fare. 2 stars out of 5.
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul
Feature-Length Commentary: Director
Feature-Length Commentary: Production Team
Deleted Scenes With Director Commentary
Original Documentary: Style As Substance, Several Of Tarsem's Collaborators Reflect On His Work
Visual Effects Vignettes: An Alternate Angle Feature In Which 6 Special Effects Sequences Are Explored From Storyboards To Final Scene
Interactive Brain Map And Empathy Test
International Teaser Trailer
Script-To-Screen Screenplay Access
Original Theatrical Website
Fully Playable Demo
Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC]
The DVD Review: