A box-office sleeper, The Cell (2000) puts a decidedly eerie spin on the oft-repeated serial killer crime-drama with a narrative device (the killer is in an irreversible coma and must be confronted through his dreams) that allows director Tarsem Singh to add numerous visual flourishes indicative of his background in music video. While not giving as assured a performance as she did in Out of Sight (1998), star Jennifer Lopez is adequate if not totally believable as a child psychiatrist, while Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio are convincing in their roles as an obsessed FBI agent and a psychotic murderer, respectively. Where The Cell runs into problems is with its story, which fails to properly resolve several dangling plot threads, most notably the nascent physical attraction between the Lopez and Vaughn characters, which never amounts to anything, and the hinted-at but never revealed childhood traumas possibly suffered by Vaughn. A triumph of style over substance, The Cell cribs liberally from better psychological thrillers such as The Silence of the Lambs (1991) while remaining absorbing enough on a visceral level to hint at a rosy future for Singh.
by Karl Williams review