8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Startling glimpse of a psychotic subsconscious,
This review is from: The Cell [DVD]  (DVD)
Although "The Cell" is far from perfect, I think the previous reviews are far too negative. This movie is certainly not for everyone, as it departs quite a long way from the standard templates in which most violent thrillers are cast. An extremely violent, uninhibited killer (Vincent D'Onofrio as Carl Stargher) is caught by police - but where is his latest victim, who is probably still alive? Searching and forensic examination yield no useful pointers, and Stargher himself thwarts detectives by withdrawing into a near-coma.
This is where Lopez' character, psychologist Catherine Deane, volunteers to enter the killer's warped mind using a machine she has invented. (You have to suspend disbelief to accept this improbably advanced technology). As might be expected, once she gets in there the balance of power is radically altered. Stargher's mind calls the shots, and the familiar limitations of physical law cease to apply. Literally anything that can be imagined may occur - including some things you might prefer not to imagine. Deane struggles to communicate with Stargher's more vulnerable and accessible manifestations, while realising that the violent, uncompromising fragment of his personality may obliterate her at any moment. Eventually she loses control, and FBI agent Peter Novak is forced to penetrate Stargher's mind in a desperate rescue attempt (he is absolutely unqualified for the task).
There is a fascinating parallel between "The Cell" and Roger Zelazny's brilliant science fiction novella "The Dream Master", published in 1966. Anyone who is interested in the core idea of a psychologist experiencing patients' minds through virtual reality should check out readers' reviews of "The Dream Master" here on Amazon; it gets a 4.5 star average, which is rather better than "The Cell".
I would unhesitatingly give "The Cell" five stars, but it does occasionally seem to lose focus. Perhaps there is not a big enough market for this kind of work: not enough people who read books like "The Dream Master" also watch movies like "The Cell". To me, it is just as compelling and memorable as Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon" and "Manhunter", the excellent film that was based on it.