Films where phones play a leading role

Modern mobile phones are indispensable tools that we use every day, so it isn't surprising that they feature in movies too, driving plot lines and bringing people together. Here are some that are worth watching.
Films where phones play a leading role

Worth Watching

Cellular (2004)

No hacking or fancy gizmos, just a frantic phone call in this action thriller. When Kim Basinger is trapped in her attic with her child and a broken phone she can make only one call to a complete stranger.

Will Ryan believe her and can he save her family before it’s too late?

The Matrix (1999)

In the Matrix a phone isn’t just for calls – it’s an interface for a whole new world. Sound familiar?

In 1999 no film was cooler than the Matrix, and it still holds up today. It introduced us to the Nokia 8110, which was possibly the coolest phone on the planet (at the time).

Phone Booth (2003)

Remember when phone booths were the most useful way to stay in touch while you were out and about? 

When Stuart Shepard is trapped in a phone booth by a crazy sniper we are sure he was wishing for an alternative. Perhaps a phone he could keep in his pocket and use wherever he liked. Lucky for us it was 2003 – otherwise we wouldn’t have seen this stylish thriller.

When a Stranger Calls (1979 and 2006)

A phone call is the driving force in this classic thriller, which received a reboot in 2006. When a babysitter receives creepy late-night phone calls she calls the police, who track the call to find it is coming… from inside the house.

Perhaps not one to watch if you are home alone. Or babysitting.

Mojave Phone Booth (2006)

This independent film directed by John Putch is based on a real phone booth in the Mojave Desert. You get to explore the lives of four Las Vegas people who are drawn to visit a vandalized but functioning phone booth deep in the Mojave Desert. Will they receive the call they need call to help make sense of their unravelling lives?

The phone Booth in this movie did exist in real life until the year 2000. It became an Internet sensation in 1997 – the original meme. There is also an very interesting book about it

A bit left field

Halt and Catch Fire

This TV series isn’t strictly about mobile phones – in fact they barely feature. What it does explore though, is the early days of home computers, the Internet and the World Wide Web. With top notch acting and a plot that extends over two decades, HCF mixes itself into the fascinating and exciting story of the tech revolution. If you enjoy technology or remember the rise of home computing in the early 90s you will find something to like in this series. You can watch it on Amazon Prime video now.

Startup

Similar to Halt and Catch fire, Startup maps the rise of an unlikely trio who create a series of, erm, startups in high technology. This series is a bit more dramatic and farfetched than Halt and Catch Fire, but it still describes some fascinating technologies, including the Dark Web, Crypto currency and mobile payments. 

Well acted and fast paced, it gets bonus points for including Hellboy and Frodo Baggins in the same program.

Searching For Sugar Man

Searching for Sugar Man doesn’t feature phones at all, but it was filmed on one. This touching  documentary maps the career and rediscovery of the musician Rodriguez, who faded into obscurity in the USA but made a huge impact on another continent. 

It was filmed in part using an iPhone – we challenge you to spot which bits!

Avoid

Cell (2016)

Stephen King adaptations are often a bit hit and miss – for every IT or Carrie there is a Hearts in Atlantis, or sadly, a Cell. Mobile phones are integral to this horror flick, but, well, it’s rubbish. 

All the other Matrix films

Sadly the second and third Matrix films didn’t live up to the hype of the first. With less time spent in the uber cool simulated Matrix and more time in the grim dystopian Xion, they just weren’t as much fun.

The continuation of the trilogy did bring a special edition Matrix phone, the Samsung SPH-N270, which is best forgotten as well.

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