Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 35
  2. Negative: 4 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Clint Morris
    It spends little time on exposition, instead quickly getting into the thrust of the movie. For a film like this, it’s advantageous, grabbing the audience almost immediately after the opening credits.
  2. Provides a reminder of the power of unadorned drama and language -- whole torrents of eloquent words -- in the service of a nifty idea.
  3. Phone Booth is 82 New York minutes long, all of them exciting.
  4. What keeps Phone Booth going, despite its premise, is the acting and the writing, both of which are top-notch.
  5. 75
    Farrell is a dynamo. And Kiefer Sutherland, whose sniper role is essentially a voice on the phone, matches Farrell subtle shift for subtle shift.
  6. 75
    The movie is essentially a morality play, and it's not a surprise to learn that Larry Cohen, the writer, came up with the idea 20 years ago--when there were still phone booths and morality plays.
  7. 75
    A lean, mean tension machine, setting up its premise, executing it with smarts, throwing in enough twists to keep things interesting, and wrapping it up before anyone can get fatigued or reflective. It's on the money.
  8. Has undertones of serious commentary on American violence, thanks to the screenplay by Larry Cohen, who often uses horror-film plots to explore cracks and contradictions in society.
  9. 75
    A tabloidy, nail-biting thriller.
  10. The result is a movie that combines a seriousness of purpose with an impish delight in craft, in a way Hitchcock would have appreciated.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Short, suspenseful, funny, and profane, the film's a throwback to the neat little B-level thrillers the entertainment industry used to crank out by the dozen in the post- World War II era and the early days of TV.
  12. 75
    The best pure thriller of 2003 to-date.
  13. A perverse kind of payback for every terrorizing cabbie, bullying streetwalker, insulting bike messenger and screaming corner grocer in Manhattan.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Gussied up with a host of filmmaking tricks in an attempt to keep things lively, this intensely acted little exercise just doesn't have enough going for it, with the exception of gradually growing interest in lead Colin Farrell.
  15. It's a movie perfectly designed for tossing back popcorn (the jumbo kind so you don't have to leave your seat during the show); not until later do you get the empty feeling that you've swallowed an entire bucket of popped air.
  16. It's an energetic stunt of a movie, and it wants to make us sweat like it's 1974.
  17. Reviewed by: D. Parvaz
    Gripping in parts, tedious in others, the film works best when the action is brisk.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Superficially gritty yet soullessly slick melodrama.
  19. Can't spoil the ending, except to say that it spoils itself.
  20. 60
    The payoff doesn't quite equal the intensity of the spectacularly squirm-inducing premise, but Farrell takes his showboating star turn and runs with it.
  21. The movie's so hung up (pardon) on its gimmick it never transcends it; might have been better had Kiefer called Moviefone.
  22. 58
    Schumacher's depictions of street life are cartoonishly ludicrous and riddled with cliches -- a pair of garish hookers, for instance, can't be excused simply because one is played with engaging vigor by Paula Jai Parker.
  23. 50
    Loud and frantic and filled with all sorts of business, but it's also empty and inert, a creative exercise that would have played better as a 30-minute short.
  24. Farrell, adding to the case for his impending stardom, locks into his role with the laser precision of the sniper's rifle scope.
  25. 50
    Phone Booth may not be awful, but it's puny.
  26. 50
    The situation is suspenseful and unique enough to hold our attention for a time.
  27. 50
    Best appreciated as hilarious pulp metaphor, which, not coincidentally, happens to be one of the screenwriter's specialties.
  28. 50
    Proves that a movie can be true to life and still seem utterly preposterous.
  29. 40
    At only 84 minutes, Phone Booth's brevity turns out to be its only saving grace.
  30. 40
    Schumacher choose to start the movie in outer space? The opening shot epitomizes everything wrong with Phone Booth: Given the chance to stage human drama on an intimate, suffocating scale, Schumacher begins in the endless expanse of the void, tricked out with gratuitous CGI effects.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 110 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 55
  2. Negative: 15 out of 55
  1. Sep 28, 2011
    "Phonebooth" demonstrates that Director Joel Schumacher, despite the massive Cliches and disjointed script he created, can actually direct decent movies. Full Review »
  2. Feb 19, 2014
    Who would have thought a movie about a guy in a phone booth would be as interesting as it was? I suppose when Joel Shumacher is directing an all-star cast, anything, even an entire movie that takes place in a phone booth, can be interesting! Colin Farrell stars as a man who lies, cheats, and does anything it takes to get to the top of his profession. He thinks he's on top of the world, with a wife, a girlfriend, and a group of clients, who don't know what scum he is, but someone has noticed the real Stu Shepard and has trained a rifle on him. Shepard has to do as he is told or risk becoming yet another victim, of a man who has been targeting New York City's businessmen. Colin Farrell is a very versatile actor, it's always been his biggest strength, but generally I find his performances to be kind of flat. Farrell has never been someone who I would consider a top tier Hollywood actor, but looking back on this early performance, I have to tell you, I was impressed. The setting of the film was so limited, that the only way it works is if you have a strong and believable cast, which Phone Booth certainly has. Every character has a unique back story and everyone is interconnected, in a film that is full of intrigue and edge of your seat action. People may not know what a phone booth is anymore, but this film is far from outdated. It is an excellent edge of your seat thrill ride that is perfect for the person who wants a short, but exciting movie. Full Review »
  3. Nov 1, 2013
    An interesting and perhaps hidden ploy within ‘Phone Booth’ is its subconscious poke at those who lead a sinful and disillusioned life, it goes with the belief that such a life will catch up on you, this film obviously does this in a dramatic and ridiculous way, but it still throws a few stones in to ripple the water and give us a thought in the short running time of the movie, it takes place almost entirely within this area where the phone booth is, but keeps the pulse going with its sometimes unpredictable plot and mysterious caller. We are introduced to the fast talking publicist that is Stu Shepard, phone to the ear and barking various orders to his lackey, he lies and cheats his way through life, which comes back to bite him, he uses a pay phone to call his mistress Pamela (Katie Holmes) so as his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) is unaware when she checks his phone records, ruling out the possibility of her becoming aware of his adultery. What dear Stu doesn’t anticipate is answering the pay phone to a confidently spoken man who knows just about every single thing about our now edgy publicist, oh yeah and the man on the other line has a sniper pointed at Stu, under the illusion that Stu deserves to die for his life of shame and fakery, he’s essentially playing God and yet he is only a voice, but a commanding voice is also one not to be messed with, something that Stu finds out all to soon after a run in with some irritated street walkers and their pimp, his day just eta worse and worse. As the intention starts to grow on Stu and police start arriving, Captain Ramey (Forest Whitaker) starts figuring out that perhaps Stu is actually incapable of putting down the phone for fear of getting a bullet through his head, they are under the belief that Stu has a gun, yet aren’t completely sold on the whole story that they’re being fed. Director Joel Schumacher knows how to heighten the tension as he often focuses the camera on what appear to be menial objects at first, but soon play out to be much more vital, he also gives the whole thing a sense of humour, which is a nice touch. Most of the humour and tension comes from the voice on the phone, the anti-hero perhaps. The voice is Kiefer Sutherland, who brings a soft yet effective tone that is refreshing to listen to but menacing when need be. It becomes unclear wether he has any intention of killing Stu, but it makes the film much more enthralling when he never seems to lose his cool and has Stu in all sorts of knots, a snappy and enjoyable film that seems to hold so much more under the hood and has more pressing motives that it doesn’t play. Full Review »