Kim Basinger's been kidnapped! By Jason Statham! And thanks to her crummy cellphone network, her only contact with the outside world is a slacker surf dude: Chris Evans! William H Macy is lots of fun as the incredulous cop who catches the call, but basically it's up to the future Captain America to get to the LA Confidential Oscar winner before she ends up in The Transporter's boot. Final Destination 2 director David R Ellis oversees an engaging thriller that hits just the right tone.
David R Ellis
William H Macy
When kidnap victim Jessica gets a phone line out it's just as well she doesn't get Greensleeves for twenty minutes and a disembodied voice saying her call is valued.
What she does get is surfer dude Ryan (Evans), a slacker happier shooting the breeze with his pals on Santa Monica pier than helping a deluded damsel in distress.
Jessica (Basinger), a high school science teacher (you can tell she's brainy - wardrobe have fished out a pair of specs for her), has managed to piece together a shattered phone to make that call.
Phoned at random, Ryan's initially sceptical but she manages to convince him that she's been grabbed and the bent LAPD cop villains - led by Jason Statham - are now after her son.
Director David R Ellis, who displayed his crowd-pleasing style with the engagingly competent Final Destination 2, again delivers the goods.
There's nothing new on offer - one-dimensional baddies, double-crossing cops and an all-American family in peril - but it's all rendered appealingly.
Evans is a likeable lead, Basinger appears under the impression she's in a serious film and William H Macy steals every scene as the suspicious cop who really wants to run a day spa.
The script, which is based on an idea by Phone Booth screenwriter Larry Cohen, crackles with one-liners, the action never flags and the stunts never overload the story.
At a time when a lot of Hollywood fare has a bewildering streak of all-things-to-all-cinema-goers schizophrenia running through it, this knows exactly where it's at.
It all looks easy enough, but to maintain a balance between humour and tension - without compromising either - takes skill.
Ellis got the balance right. His sad passing is Tinseltown's loss.