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The Cell

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio
Director: Tarsem Singh
Genre: Thriller
Year: 2000
Rating: 2 / 5

The Cell is one of the most breath-taking, visionary videos I have seen in quite some time. Though pundits may disagree, I would argue that it the obvious choice for an MTV Breakthrough Video award. The Cell is not a video, you say? It is actually a movie? Allow me a moment to reconsider. Director Tarsem Singh, still basking in the critical acclaim afforded him by his 1994 video masterpiece, "Losing My Religion," has created an awesome visual spectacle. Unfortunately, this spectacle happens to be encased in a movie that is rather bland and formulaic, not to mention one that features only one redeemable acting performance.

Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez, doing her best impersonation of scenery) is a relatively inexperienced psychotherapist, one who specializes in an unusual form of care. It seems that her team of doctors and scientists has constructed a mechanism by which an individual can "travel" into the mind of another. This procedure is designed to help people with severe mental blocks, notably those exhibiting schizophrenic tendencies. Catherine has only attempted the process with one person, a young boy named Edward, and the results have been limited at best. Even more damaging, the project has been given a six-month window to provide results or be dropped.

Enter a team of FBI agents, led by the brooding Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn). It seems that Vaughn and his partner have finally tracked down noted serial killer Carl Stargher, but, moments before an ultimately successful raid, Stargher slips into a coma. Alas, one of Stargher's last conscious acts was to kidnap yet another victim and hide her in a secret lair. The agents are able to deduce that the latest would-be victim has less than forty hours to live, and, since their chief suspect in unconscious, drastic measures are in order. This brings them to Catherine Deane, with a request that she enter the mind of a psychotic killer in order to save a young woman's life.

Are the images in this movie impressive to behold? Certainly. Does Tarsem Singh possess a creativity that defies logic and opens new doors in the mind? Quite possibly. Nonetheless, that alone does not make The Cell a movie - it merely makes for some engrossing eye candy. Jennifer Lopez is utterly wasted, as she merely hops from one lavish costume to another inside the mind of Vincent D'Onofrio's Carl Stargher. Vince Vaughn is equally misused, as his character, who hints at some of his own childhood trauma, is woefully underdeveloped. D'Onofrio is the only actor in this film worth watching, as his character allows him to explore various facets of a fragmented mind. In the end, though, The Cell remains the flowing, artistic expression of one very creative mind - nothing more and nothing less.


Jennifer Lopez..........Catherine Deane
Vince Vaughn..........Peter Novak
Vincent D'Onofrio..........Carl Stargher

Certification: Rated R for violence, language, and nudity.
Running Time: 107 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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