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Ethan: Who are you? How did you get involved?

A 2004 crime thriller film directed by David R. Ellis, starring Jason Statham, Kim Basinger, William H. Macy and Chris Evans.

High school biology teacher Jessica Martin (Basinger) is kidnapped by Ethan (Statham), who is after her family for unexplained reasons. He and his gang lock her in an attic where he smashes the landline phone to avoid her calling out. She manages to jury rig the phone to be able to dial out again— but the rotary dial is destroyed, she can only tap out the numbers. Dialing blindly, she manages to connect with Ryan's (Evans) cell phone. Ryan is an irresponsible commitment phobic trying to hook back up with ex-girlfriend Chloe, he refuses to believe Jessica and thinks she's prank calling, but she pleads that if he hangs up she may not be able to reach anyone else at all. So he decides to believe her and take his phone to the police where they can decide if she's serious or not. Midway up the precinct's stairwell, he starts losing reception just as Ethan returns and starts hurting Jessica to find out where "it" is and where her husband is, and tells her he's going after her son. With no question of her and her son being in danger, Ryan undertakes a harrowing chase across the city to try to protect her son, discover why (and where) she's been kidnapped and avoid dying along the way.

All while avoiding losing cell signal and battery power.

Along the way, Sgt. Mooney (Macy) starts unraveling the trail of chaos left in Ethan and Ryan's wake, while investigating Jessica's kidnapping. He's about to retire, so...

There's a 2008 Hong Kong remake called Connected, directed by Benny Chan. It, too, is worth checking out.

This film provides examples of:

  • Acquaintance Denial: Ryan does this to ex-girlfriend Chloe, though it's justified here - he's trying to keep the head Dirty Cop from harming her.
  • Action Survivor: Ryan and Jessica. The former for managing to run, drive and dive across L.A. and live, the latter for killing a man with Biology!, choking another, and saving her family in the process.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Twice. The first time Ryan apologized for holding up a Cell Phone store with a gun to steal a phone charger... though he did pay for it. Later mixed with Explaining Your Power to the Enemy. Jessica apologizes to a thug after killing him through a single cut below on his arm. See Chekhov's Skill below.
  • Bald of Evil: Ethan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ryan's cell phone and its ability to record video and remember phone numbers.
  • Chekhov's News: The TV news report of murdered drug dealers. Turns out that they were murdered by dirty cops and Jessica Martin and her son Ricky were kidnapped because her husband recorded the murders.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jessica is a biology teacher, which means she knows exactly which artery to cut to kill a man in less than a minute.
    Jessica: Tenth grade biology. Brachial artery... pumps 30 liters of blood a minute. There's only five in the human body. I'm sorry.
  • Confiscated Phone: When his battery is about to die, Ryan buys a cell phone charger at gunpoint in order to obtain instant service.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: When Ethan and Tanner take Ryan someplace else in waterfront to kill him, Ryan's friend, Chad, comes along to see what's going on giving Ryan the distraction he needs to escape by jumping in the water.
  • Covert Emergency Call: This trope drives the entire plot — a kidnap victim manages to repair a broken phone and uses it to try to reach the police without her captors knowing.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Edited into every cellphone screen that appeared in the movie.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer Dean Deviln is a cab driver. Also a bigwig of New Line Cinema.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Mad Dog bleeds to death in under a minute after Jessica slices his brachial artery open. It’s surprisingly bloody for a PG-13 movie.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Zig-zagged. Ryan is a 6 foot tall, athletic, muscular young man. This is however where his advantages end. His opponents, are trained and armed dirty cops. Most of them he tries to beat up are either caught off-guard or are taken out by Ryan using some sort of Improvised Weapon. In a normal fight, Ryan has no chance against any of them. Ethan Greer manages to corner Ryan and proceeds to give him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown very easily. While Ryan towers over him, Ethan simply takes him down. What few hits Ryan manages to get are because Ethan decides to let him play with him for fun. Once he is bored, he takes down Ryan without any effort. On the other hand, Ethan realises that Ryan is at least strong enough to give him some trouble. So he decides to stop playing around.
  • Dirty Cop: The people behind the kidnapping.
  • Distress Call: Jessica's phone call.
  • Embarrassing Relative Teacher: Discussed; the teacher's son is worried that he'll have to have her as a teacher when he attends her school next year; she thinks it would be a splendid idea.
  • The Everyman: Ryan is an ordinary kid who Jason Statham's villain coldly rebukes "Even the bitch has more fight than you" as he mercilessly administers him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Female Gaze: When we first see Ryan he doesn't have a shirt on and my, does he look fine without one.
  • Foreshadowing: Early in the movie, Ryan tries to convince his ex-girlfriend he cares about her pet cause (Save The Bay). He sees an obscured sign and tells her he's there to "save the day".
  • Heroic Bystander: Ryan is just a guy on the street who gets a phone call, but once he realizes it's not a prank he goes to extraordinary lengths to help Jessica.
    Ethan: "Who are you? How did you get involved?"
    Ryan: "I just answered my phone."
  • Hero Insurance: Ryan committed grand theft auto twice, caused a numerous car pile-up, assaulted a (dirty) police officer, and carjacking to save Jessica, her husband and son.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lampshaded by the fact that the Chinese character on Ryan's arm is read as "honor" and/or "loyalty", the defining traits of this otherwise completely ordinary boy.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Ryan while driving yells for a girl to get off her cell phone and concentrate on the road. All the while he's talking to Jessica. To be fair, his reason for being on the phone is much more important.
    "Get off your cell phone! Concentrate on the road! IDIOT! *to Jessica* You still there?!"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills/Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Officer Mooney ALWAYS gets the shot, the Bad Guys are lucky to graze his neck. Though it is a bit subverted as the Bad Guys are always firing on guys who have cover and/or are moving and Mooney fires several shots and usually only gets one, but he is waiting for the right shot instead firing blindly, so he has time to aim and plan.
  • Insistent Terminology: "It's a day spa!"
  • Kill the Lights: When Mooney has Ethan at gunpoint and orders him to drop his gun, Ethan shoots the only light in the room and escapes from sight before Mooney and Ryan's eyes adjust to the sudden darkness.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While the lawyer is trying to get his car from the impound (without paying for it), out of focus in the background, you can see Ryan get dropped off by a taxi and sneak behind a tow truck to get to the lawyer's car.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Kidnapped wife and child reveals corruption in the LAPD linked to gang killings and robbery.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ethan savagely beats Ryan during the climax in revenge for all "the troubles you caused me today".
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • At the police station when Ryan realizes Jessica is telling the truth while she's being terrorized by Ethan.
    • The look on Ryan's face when the oil trucker slams into Ryan's stolen security car is priceless.
    • "Ohhhh, I am in deep shit! :D"
    • When the cell phone Jessica is on with Ryan falls out of his pocket while being chased from Ethan at the bank.
    • The look on Ethan's face when his cell phone goes off just as he's starting to aim at Mooney.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Jason Statham's native British accent fades in and out during his dialogue throughout the movie.
    • Subverted In-Universe when Officer Mooney remembers Bayback's Hispanic accent when she was posing as Jessica Martin.
  • Plot Device: The camcorder video of Ethan and his partners mugging and murdering a pair of drug dealers which reveals them as dirty cops. The latter half of the movie revolves around ensuring it can reach the police. Note that the video itself is the plot device not the camcorder, as the camcorder itself is destroyed Ryan is able to save the recording on a cellphone and give it to the police.
  • Precision F-Strike: "It's a day spa, you fuck!"
  • Product Placement: Well, the whole plot revolves around a cell phone, whose brand (to be specific, a Nokia) can be clearly seen in one or another scene.
    • Ryan's ex-girlfriend gives him an Office Depot box.
  • Retirony:
    • It's Mooney's last day on the job, and he lives through the end! Subverted Trope, ahoy!
    • Also subverted in that despite his age he still knocks the stuffing out of one of the criminals.
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Ryan.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some ideas were inspired by the infamous Rampart Scandals done by the LAPD in the early 1990s.
  • Running Gag: Everyone keeps on calling Mooney's post career business a beauty salon. The final time ends in the Precision F-Strike mentioned above.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Suddenly Shouting: Not that Ethan was ever really quiet, but this is where he gets the loudest:
    Ethan: Shut up.
    Jessica: I just want you to know that I-
    Ethan: SHUT UP!
  • Super Cell Reception: Averted. Ryan tries to go to the cops, but while climbing the stairs to the detectives' floor, he begins to lose the signal, forcing him to turn around. Later, he has to take a detour to keep from losing reception in a tunnel.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The thug that Jessica kills manages to do nothing but choke up until his last moments when he looks up and chokes out, "... bitch".
  • Title Drop: The cellphone store Ryan "robs" is named Cellular.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: While his fighting skills are that of a random schmuck, Ryan is still a big, buff guy.
  • Wham Line: When the security team stops Ethan and one of his men at airport security, they tell the security to look into their jacket pockets. And what follows is a line that changes the entire dynamic of who Ryan is really up against.
    "He's a cop."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Almost an exact subversion. When Sgt. Mooney needs to create a diversion to shoot Bayback from behind a sofa, he knocks over and shatters a fish bowl with a goldfish inside. Minutes later, when his plan succeeds and the reinforcements arrive, he is seen holding the fish in a wine glass with a bit of water.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Jessica's son is named Ricky Martin. She explains he's not named after the singer.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The villains threaten more than once to kill Jessica's little son.