Recalling some of the great Alfred Hitchcock films, Phone Booth takes a simple premise and grabs the audience by the throat. Its a taut psychological thriller anchored by a great on-screen performance (Colin Farrell) and a fantastic role that is essentially a voiceover (Kiefer Sutherland.)Farrell plays Stu Shepard, a fast talker whose skills shine in the public relations field. Stu may be a bottom feeder when it comes to PR work, but he gives the appearance of someone much more important.But Stu isnt just about selling his clients, he is about selling himself especially to a young actress (Katie Holmes) who he is trying to lure to bed.Stu calls the young lady from a phone booth that way his wife has no way of tracing his activities. But the plan for seclusion and secrecy backfires. Stu answers the phone after making his call and finds out that the person on the other end of the line isnt just stalking him hes pointing a high-powered rifle at Stu and is ready to pull the trigger.The film is nothing more than a moral chess play between Stu and the sniper (Sutherland). The fun in Larry Cohens screenplay is the verbal exchange between the pair that allows you to understand why Stu has been targeted.Cohens crisp screenplay is enhanced by a solid directorial effort from Joel Schumacher. The director has had a very spotty career, for every A Time to Kill there is a D.C. Cab, but this is clearly one of his best efforts to date. Using swirling camera angles, split screens and hyperkinetic visuals, Schumacher keeps the film moving at a brisk pace.There are some good moments for Forest Whitaker in a supporting role as the cop sent in to negotiate with Stu, but the film works mainly because of the two leads.Sutherland exudes creepiness with his voice and an insane edge, despite the calm demeanor. Ive never been much of a fan of Sutherland until his work on the television series 24, but I was really enthralled with his ability to create a memorable character with just his voice.Farrell continues to prove he is a star on the rise. In the course of 80 minutes, we see Stus cocky facade come crashing apart, piece by piece, and Farrell does a good job of capturing the breakdown. Farrell has already shown that he can stand out in worse films, such as The Recruit and Daredevil, so its really no surprise that he is just as good when the material is there.Phone Booth took awhile to get to the screen, delayed from its original release last November after the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings. But after three months of mostly dreadful big studio releases, its arrival is a welcome break from cinema purgatory. Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton was so affected by Phone Booth that … well, lets just say he aint answering one without a 10-foot cord. So if youd like to comment on his reviews, e-mail him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.Phone BoothStarring: Colin Farrell, Kiefer SutherlandDirector: Joel SchumacherRating: R for pervasive language, some violencePlaying at: Great Escape 12Grade: B+

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