The Call- Ending mars an otherwise taut thriller

the callThe Call opens up with us hearing various 911 calls as we move from one operator to another. It’s a suitably chaotic and believable scene, seeing as it takes place in a Los Angeles call center. Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a veteran operator, handling calls with ease, and maintaining a relationship with police officer Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut). A call comes in from a frantic young girl (Evie Thompson) who is reporting a prowler outside her house. While on the line with Jordan, the prowler breaks in, and Jordan instructs the girl to hide. When the prowler disconnects the phone, Jordan follows her training and calls back, unfortunately alerting the intruder as to the girl’s whereabouts. Jordan here’s the struggle, and pleads with the man not to hurt the girl. “It’s already done,” she is told, and the next day at work she watches a newscast in horror as the girl’s body is recovered by police. Jordan has a break-down over the incident, and ceases to be an emergency operator.

The film moves 6 months forward, and we find Jordan now teaching new recruits at the call center. As she escorts a group across the call center floor, she happens upon an operator taking a call from a frantic girl who has been kidnapped. The operator doesn’t know what to do, and Jordan takes over, learning that the girl, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), has been abducted from a mall and is currently being held in the trunk of a car. Jordan settles quickly into her old job, determined that this girl won’t meet the same fate as the one six months earlier. Eventually, she discovers a connection to the earlier call, and vows to save the girl at all costs.

For most of the film’s 94 minute running time, we’re treated to a taut, engaging suspense thriller. Berry shines here as she keeps Casey on the line, gathering information and swiftly passing it on to the police. Some clever tricks are used to help the girl, but other well meaning individuals cause those efforts to go awry. But it all works, with the suspense nicely mounted by director Brad Anderson, who has directed several episodes for various television series (among them Being Human, The Killing, and Boardwalk Empire) as well as the 2008 movie Transsiberian.  The performances by both Berry and Breslin keep you on the edge of your seat, and Breslin does a nice job of maberryking you fear her character’s fear. Unfortunately, things go off the rails a bit in the last half hour, when Berry decides to pursue the kidnapper on her own. The movie veers into slight Silence of the Lambs territory, especially when Berry discovers the kidnapper’s whereabouts and proceeds to enter his hideout on her own, stupidly dropping her phone in the process instead of hanging back and alerting her cop boyfriend. Things get a little unbelievable here, which is a shame, as the last half hour takes this movie down a few notches. It’s a shame Anderson went with a more Hollywood style ending in making Berry a semi-action hero (perhaps Berry thought she was Storm from the X-Men at this point, or maybe Catwoman). It might have been served so much better if she had remained at the call center, and kept in touch with the police as she led them to the man’s lair. Despite this, the ending is somewhat satisfying (though it also strains credibility), and it may leave you with a smile on your face as the credits start to roll.

The cast are all good in their roles. Berry makes you feel Jordan’s pain with the initial tragic call, and you root for her in her determination to save Casey. Breslin plays scared well, and even shows some resilience in trying to help herself escape. She remains fairly believable throughout most of the movie, as does Berry (again, up to that last half hour). Morris Chestnut does a good job as Jordan’s boyfriend and cop who does his best to track the man. Michael Eklund (seen as Kit Nelson on the TV series Alcatraz) makes for a suitably creepy villain, hitting just the right amount of crazy without veering over the top. Roma Maffia is quite good as Jordan’s immediate supervisor, who tries to help keep her together while aiding in tracking the cell phone being used by Casey. The performances make this worth your time, despite the ending.

The Call could’ve been a better movie, but as it is it’s an entertaining, suspenseful thriller with good performances that make it worthy of at least a rent. The ending may ruin it for some, but it’s worth your time up until that point. And the ending may even satisfy, however slightly. While not a call you must take, it’s one you won’t mind all that much, as there are worse thrillers out there.

The Call is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

 

C+

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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