call

The Call is part intriguing thriller, part eye-rolling predictability with a sort of surprising twist at the end. If expectations are kept low, you might enjoy yourself.

The Call has a few things going for it. First, it’s about a world most of us know little about – being a 911 operator. Talk about stressful. It’s almost as bad as being an air traffic controller, like in Pushing Tin. Halle Berry plays Jordan, a veteran who is one cool cucumber when it comes to handling “PRs” or “Persons Reporting.” She and the rest of her colleagues work at the call center or “The Hive,” which is the eyes, ears, and heart of the city (in this case, Los Angeles) and answer the calls that can be any emergency from someone trying to get a bat out of their house to someone who was just stabbed by their spouse. The 911 operators are oftentimes that crucial point between life and death, but once they’ve alerted the first responders, they have to let it go. As Jordan explains early on, an operator cannot become emotionally involved.

Except, of course, when a call comes in from a teenage girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin), who has been abducted by a crazy serial killer and thrown into the trunk of a car. Jordan definitely becomes involved then because, you see, a similar scenario has happened to Jordan before — and it didn’t turn out well. Jordan is shell shocked from the experience, but this time, she’s going to do everything she can to make sure THIS girl survives.

Berry could be considered another asset to The Call. She more than adequately portrays a woman very good at her job but who also shows the strains of such a stressful occupation. All she has to do, really, is be reactive. It’s only in the last 15-20 minutes of the movie does Halle try to be a hero of sorts in a fairly idiotic way. Breslin, who is all grown up from her time in Signs and Little Miss Sunshine, also plays it reactive, mostly crying and freaking out. Then her character finally shows some backbone, and she gets to kick a little ass. As for the bad guy, character actor Michael Eklund is a tad over the top and doesn’t offer anything new to the standard psycho killer type. It’s really just Berry and Breslin’s movie.

The final thing The Call has going for it is the pace. Director Brad Anderson, who has helmed other taut thrillers like Session 9 and The Machinist, never lets up and keeps The Call an effective race against time. The scenes in the car are the best, as Jordan frantically thinks of ways to help Casey, along with almost to the girl being discovered. But as I mentioned above, the last part of the film takes a turn towards the ridiculous, when Jordan decides to go out and try to find Casey herself. Because as a 911 operator, that’s what you do. It almost ruins the whole movie – until the final moments. You’ll walk out of the theater vindicated.

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