Directed By: Brad Anderson
Written By: Richard D’Ovidio
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Mikhael Eklund, David Otunga, and Michael Imperioli.
It’s nice to see the other sides of society and not just the same cops, lawyers, judges spiel every once in a while. There’s a heck of a lot more to American society and industry than those people, but they usually don’t get movies made about them.
Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 Emergency Responder for the Los Angeles Police Department. She is very confident and comfortable in her job until she makes a big mistake with one of her callers, and costs the caller her life. Not being able to stand the idea of failing again, she decides to transition to being a teacher.
All is well and good until a young girl named Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) is kidnapped. By an unusual circumstance, Jordan ends up on the other end of the 911 call trying to help Casey escape from the psycho who’s taken her. However, it’s a hell of a lot harder than it usually is, since Casey is calling on a disposable track phone that can’t be traced, and Casey is locked in the trunk of a moving car, so there’s only so much that they can do to alert people without drawing the killer’s attention. Jordan also has to keep Casey focused and give her courage, since the poor girl is absolutely terrified of her situation. She uses all the right tricks, like getting Casey to talk about her favorite things and calmly ensuring that the girl fights.
When the film has this particular setup, with Jordan on the phone and Casey in the trunk, it works very well. It is intense, realistic, and everything in the film up through the first two acts feels legitimate. However, the third act takes a hard turn away from the enjoyable suspense story into some more traditional serial killer fare. Granted, it’s still effective storytelling, but the film is much more enjoyable when it operates purely on the merits of suspense. They use some of the more infuriating tropes from horror movies that will risks taking the viewer out of the movie.
While I’ve never been a tremendous fan of Berry’s work, she does a very good and credible job in the film. In fact, I’d say it’s the best that I’ve seen from her. Every emotion we see from her in this film feels legitimate, and it’s often shared by the audience. Eklund does a good job as the film’s villain, properly exuding a sense of danger and a palpable feeling of creepy in the later scenes. But the film’s rock is Breslin. I must confess that there was a moment in the second act where she nearly made me cry, it was so heartbreaking. The relationship between Jordan and Casey is really what makes the film so engaging. I enjoyed seeing them bond over the course of the experience.
The director, Brad Anderson, is a veteran of suspense films and some of the best television series in the last ten years, including The Shield and The Wire. After enjoying this film so much, I’d like to see what else he has done.
I didn’t expect to enjoy The Call quite as much as I did. I was engaged and entertained throughout most of the movie, but I disliked the last two minutes. After everything the characters have been through, it’s understandable to do what they did, but it still feels like it came from some other movie, and I feel it doesn’t work here. However, despite some larger issues, I’d still recommend The Call if you’re up for a really good suspense thriller.