A social worker uses experimental technology to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer to help the F.B.I. find his last kidnapped victim.
The Cell (2000)
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Written by Mark Protosevich
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio,
Dylan Baker, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Tara Subkoff, Jake Weber
Oscar Nominations - Best Makeup
Nobody can argue that The Cell is not an ambitious movie. In fact, that's likely it's biggest problem. It's too ambitious for its own good. This is a film with a neat concept, memorable characters, and some brutally fantastic performances. It was also a box office success. So why did it completely disappear? A lot of people found it confusing and pretentious, and I'm right there with them. But beneath the bravado and the bullshit, there's a real film somewhere. And it might take a few viewings, but you might just find it.
Jennifer Lopez plays Catherine Deane, a social worker who has been hired by a group who specializes in experimental mental technology. Catherine uses that tech to enter the mind of a comatose little boy and try to get him to wake up. At the same time, the F.B.I. are hunting a vicious killer (D'Onofrio, in one of his most frightening and unforgettable performances). When he slips into a coma, Agent Peter Novak (Vaughn) convinces Catherine to uses this tech to go into the killer's mind so they can find where he hid his last victim, who may still be alive. What follows is a mind-bending journey into the mind of pure evil, one that's significantly rushed compared to the rest of the film. It's the essential bit, and they really don't take their time.
Despite a lot going for it, The Cell goes a long way towards alienating audiences by wanting too much. It wants to be The Matrix or Se7en so bad, but it just comes off as insincere due to its blatant copying. The set design is remarkable and the makeup is horrifying, but the story never feels particularly satisfying and it rushes through all the significant questions you have about the machine. On the plus side, I was expecting it to be way worse.