The Call starts off with great potential, but the tension is wasted as the film loses its focus towards the end. Instead of an ending filled with suspense, the film drifts into an ending so absurd and unbelievable it feels like it belongs in a bad comedy.
Directed by Brad Anderson (2004’s incredible The Machinist) from a screenplay by Richard D’Ovidio (who wrote the story with Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp), The Call stars Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli (who is completely wasted in the film), Justina Machado, José Zúñiga, Roma Maffia, Evie Thompson, and Denise Dowse.
The film opens with veteran LAPD 9-1-1 operator Jordan Turner (Berry) taking a variety of calls until she answers one from panicked teenager Leah Templeton (Thompson) calling because a man is breaking into her house and she is home alone. Jordan handles the call by the book, and even helps the girl hide from the intruder.
Things go from bad to horribly worst after Templeton accidentally disconnects the call, and Jordan automatically redials her – letting the killer know the girl is still in the house. Days later, the girl is found dead, and Jordan leaves her job as an operator to become a teacher.
The film jumps six months to find a still fragile Jordan now teaching future operators how to handle calls, and giving them a tour of the facility – known as the Hive. As she is teaching the class, we are introduced to teenager Casey Welson (Breslin) – who is hanging out at the mall with a friend, but also being stalked by our killer.
In a matter of seconds, Casey is grabbed, knocked out and thrown in a trunk. She awakes and manages to remember she has her friend’s disposable cell phone in her pocket and quickly calls 911. The call is answered by a rookie operator who can’t handle the stress of the situation and begs Jordan to step in and save the day.
The rest of the film is a fast-paced cat and mouse game as the killer speeds through Los Angeles and Jordan frantically works to help Casey find a way to give the LAPD a chance to save her. This is also where the film speeds into the gutter.
From the trunk of the car, Casey (who sadly has a disposable cell phone which can’t give off a GPS location) follows Jordan’s instructions to knock out a taillight so she can wave her arm, empty white paint cans (the killer made sure to leave a screw driver, paint cans and a shovel in the trunk for Casey to work with) out the back so the cops can find a trail. Unfortunately, all of Jordan’s advice just helps the killer realize Casey is awake in the trunk and make Good Samaritan Alan Denado (Imperioli) have an extremely bad day.
The film rattles along at a predictable pace as Jordan and the LAPD work to find Casey and piece the clues together to figure out where the killer might be headed and what his motives might be. Plot twist towards the end of the film see Jordan moving from behind the operator’s desk to the killer’s underground lair and the film becoming laughably bad.
The Call has all the ingredients for a great thriller, but fails to live up to the potential it shows early in the film. Halle Berry is solid in the role, and does an excellent job showing the effects of the stress on 911 operators. The talented actress doesn’t have a lot of room to work with in the film, and any of the early believability she puts into the role is ruined in the final minutes.
Abigail Breslin continues to impress in her young acting career, and manages to make the most of a role that sees her stuffed in a trunk for most of the movie. Although the crying and screaming gets a tad grating towards the middle of the movie, Breslin makes the audience care about Casey – which delivers some needed suspense to the film as she works to get out of the trunk. Like Berry, her character is ruined by an ending that makes zero sense.
Along with looking solid on Blu-ray, the release comes loaded with bonus material – including extended and deleted scenes and a variety of “behind the scenes” features. There is also an alternate ending, but it is basically the same as the theatrical end.
Although it has a great beginning and a few moments of genuine suspense, The Call is weighed down by plot holes, wasted opportunities and an ending that defies logic or believability.
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