The Call (2013)

The Call (2013)

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"Sorry, who is the studio behind this again? What?"
“Sorry, who is the studio behind this again? What?”

Twitter Plot Summary: Halle Berry is a 911 call operator who tries to help Abigail Breslin after she’s kidnapped by a nutter.

Five Point Summary:

1. Nice hair, Halle.
2. Oh no, the same thing that happened before has happened again!
3. He’s a very angry man, isn’t he?
4. Was there any need to strip Abigail Breslin down to her bra?
5. Okay, as soon as she left the call centre it got silly. Very silly.

Working on the contact line for one of the emergency services is sure to have its fair share of unpleasant moments, with any number of serious crimes being reported and the operator being helpless to provide anything more than verbal support to those calling in. After one such call goes badly, Halle Berry’s 911 operator Jordan comes off the front line (so to speak) in order to train newbies and to highlight the positive and negative aspects of the job they’re signing up for. On a floor walk a call comes in that requires her attention, and she’s soon drawn into the kidnapping of a teenage girl.

Abigail Breslin is the girl, Casey, who finds herself locked in the boot of a car and being taken to places unknown. A lot of tension is drawn from the simple kidnapping act and the subsequent call Casey makes, with both Berry and Breslin carrying the situation through performance alone. It’s not an expensive production by any means, but without those two main performances it would be just another generic, straight to DVD thriller with characters we otherwise wouldn’t care for. It’s yet another example of decent actors elevating a tired script and poorly defined characters.

Sometimes in this genre it’s best to keep the killer’s identity hidden for as long as possible, but that’s not the case here and works in its favour. Shortly after the kidnapping takes place we’re introduced to Michael, played by Michael Eklund. Michael is a man who is nicely unhinged, although his actions do border on the silly rather than believable. Still, he does prove entertaining at the very least, and the gradual release of his backstory is the only thing that pushes the narrative forward, as the police investigation ultimately flounders and you start to wonder why those characters, Morris Chestnut in particular, were given any dialogue at all besides being used as exposition for the audience.

"You will appear in a WWE Films production, and you will ENJOY it!"
“You will appear in a WWE Films production, and you will ENJOY it!”

It’s a solid thriller for the first half, but it takes a turn for the slightly ludicrous once Jordan ventures out of the call centre in order to track down the kidnapper, without police assistance. Her detective skills are apparently second to none, making ridiculous levels of progress and proving the police, in this instance, to be surprisingly incompetent. Her progress in determining the kidnapper’s whereabouts isn’t given a decent explanation, and feels very much like an action-oriented ending that has been tacked on for the sake of giving Jordan – and the audience – closure.

As a result the final act feels rushed and an homage to far better crime thrillers, a perfect example of a script that starts to lose focus once it starts moving away from its core principle and feels it necessary to have Breslin stripped of her shirt and left in her bra. If you can forgive this blatant attempt at appealing to the teen audience – it is a WWE Films production, after all – and if you can forgive the daft final act, then The Call is a decent if unspectacular thriller.

Score: 3/5

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