The Cell 2 is not a sequel to The Cell

Before I begin criticizing the movie, I’d like to enumerate the ways it is a sequel to the film ‘The Cell’.

1 - It opens with one of the characteristically visually arresting images from the first film, featuring Jennifer Lopez.

2 – An FBI agent in voiceover explains that, when a serial killer proves very difficult to catch, they sometimes recruit civilians with ‘extraordinary gifts’. He announces that “Catherine Dean was one of them. Now, there’s another.”

Note how the phrasing of that statement both equates the star of this film with Jennifer Lopez in the last film, and kind of makes it seem like they’ve only ever recruited two people with amazing abilities? Yeah, the writing doesn’t get any better.

More importantly, though, that is the last way in which this film is in any way related to the film ‘The Cell’. No, for the rest of the film’s running length it will be satisfied to be little more than a Lifetime Network-ready tale of a woman who was terrorized by a serial killer, gained psychic powers as a result, and now uses those powers to to turn the hunter into the hunted. Along for the ride is a hunky Sheriff played by Chris Bruno, whose niece is the killer’s latest victim. Maybe it’s bordering on typcasting, having him once more play the role of the skeptical sheriff who teams up with a psychic to solve crimes, but at least this time the psychic is a chick, so they can make out at the end of the movie, instead of him constantly having to worry that the psychic was going to steal his wife.

So is there anything interesting about the movie? A couple of things, sure – first, the psychic wears just way too much makeup.

And the movie is startlingly efficient at getting in some obligatory nudity within the first ten minutes. For absolutely no reason at all (besides giving the film the ability to put a nudity warning on the DVD case), the victim is snatched from a parking lot just after having sex with her boyfriend. Classy work, filmmakers.

You know, it sounds like I’m criticizing them there, but I really don’t mean to – obligatory breasts are fine as far as I’m concerned.

The film is also notable for the quickest reveal of the killer in recent memory. Here’s the scene directly after the kidnapping, as the Sheriff and his crew find the previous victim:

No, you’re not seeing things, that’s famous person Frank Whaley in the challenging role of ‘Deputy #2’. Gee, I wonder who the killer is going to turn out to be?

It manages to get worse when, in a later scene, Frank actually mentions that before becoming a cop, he was a paramedic – and eagle-eyed viewers will remember that part earlier in the movie where they mentioned that The Cusp had all sorts of medical knowledge!

What? Who’s the Cusp? Besides Frank Whaley, you mean?

Yeah, funny story – the movie has a themed serial killer with maybe the stupidest and most convoluted theme in history. He’s called the Cusp, another one of those things that must have seemed cool on the page, but sounds just horrible said out loud, because he kills his victims through a manner of wacky methods, then resuscitates them! All the while demanding that the girls allow him to tape their ‘last words’. Why does he do this? Excellent question – we’ll get there in a minute.

Anyhow, the FBI comes to town in the hopes of capturing the… ugh… Cusp, bringing along just the psychic’s boss and a single agent, who, naturally, is an ass for no reason at all. Bland, unimportant plot points get burned through, the sheriff is accused of being the killer, leading to an utterly superfluous car chase that seems to have been inserted just to pad out the running time. It all winds up with the Sheriff in custody while psychic finds herself drugged by the killer, and trapped within his mind because of the psychic link they share.

What, you may ask, is the best way to show that someone is trapped inside a mind? Why, naturally it’s to show a close up of her spinning around while the world’s second-most-famous screensaver plays in the background, of course!

Yeah, in case you don’t believe me about the screensaver, he’s the familiar part from the beginning where the pipes are coming straight at the screen.

(This visual effect came free with Windows 95!)

At the same time, the Sheriff has finally convinced everyone that Frank is the killer, so they head out to capture him in a helicopter. Well, not all of the FBI agents. The boss stays back at base, and no other deputies come along.

When they went to capture Frank in the prologue, their only information being a psychic woman’s vague visions, it looked like this:

Nice turnout, right? I mean, I'm not sure why they have silencers on half the guns, but that's still pretty good. Now that they know who the killer is, and where he is, here’s what the forces of law and order look like:

It quickly goes down from two men to one, as the moron FBI agent handcuffs the sheriff to a pipe, in the hopes of getting himself killed at the hands of the Cusp. The plan goes really well.

Inside the psychic’s head, Frank is busy coming as close as the film ever does to explaining his motives, using the film’s trademark techniques of awkward writing and bargain-basement effects. Not to mention some truly hard acting on Frank’s part!

The Sheriff breaks free and comes after Frank, causing Frank to flee in the helicopter that the FBI agent flew to the plant. You know what? I’d call the sudden reveal that the killer can fly a helicopter a bit of a cheat, but it leads to an impressive practical stunt, as a guy pretending to be the sheriff actually jumps onto the landing gear as the chopper takes off.

God bless that stuntman. The psychic then fights back inside Frank’s head, causing him to crash-land in a sports arena. The sheriff shoots Frank, ending the threat, and then, to celebrate, he and the psychic make out near the bloody corpse. It’s kind of an odd last scene, but everything’s wrapped up – and much more quickly than usual!

That’s right, Cell 2 is one of those movies that, in the final cut, wound up just under feature film running time, at a svelte 81 minutes. The producers’ solution? Twelve minutes of credits!

First it’s random shots of the beautiful Utah landscape:
And then they throw in two video clips of their amazing stunt sequences, which involved a car jumping a good five feet off the ground, and the aforementioned helicopter grab. Actually, much as I’d like to complain, the helicopter jump is just plain cool. Check this out:

God bless stuntmen. I’m terrified just watching that guy.


Anonymous said...

I caught the end of this movie on tv and looked up your review. Reading along and watching the terrible acting and plot points just before the happened made it a fun experience. Thanks dude

Anonymous said...

I watched the original Cell recently and was wondering why it was never franchised so I googled to see if it was ever gonna happen. Now I'm all depressed. Thanks a lot. Jerk.

Unknown said...

I saw IMDB call this a B movie.
....That's pretty generous. I've never seen an axe bend in a B movie before.
Proof below: