t h e c a l l
20th September 2013
25th September 2013
Halle Berry has made some strange choices. A series of high profile and impressive films, including an iconic Bond girl and a superb Oscar winning performance, have been followed by an odd set of decisions. X2, Catwoman and a direct to DVD shark effort have been broken only by a sprinkling of her recurring X-Men role. Might be worth a quick word with her agent...
So we come to The Call, a movie that even the trailer made look just about the definition of generic. A random weirdo (I can’t attach any medical term such as psychopath to him) abducts and then kills a young girl during a home invasion and Berry’s 911 operator Jordan is party responsible. Fast forward six months and Jordan just happens to be showing her new trainees around the ‘Hive’ (the 911 call-centre) when the nutter’s latest victim calls in from the boot of the car she’s been bundled into. For some reason it’s apparently impossible to trace this phone accurately and so it’s down to Jordan to get the girl to help herself.
The movie is a mixed bag of serial killer / stalker / CSI tropes but it I did find it pretty thrilling. The first two thirds of the movie are lean, pacy and it very definitely had me on the edge of my seat. Berry is clearly well above this kind of nonsense so throws all her best curly haired, wide eyed pain at it and once she’s actually been abducted, Abigail Breslin (as Casey) actually does impress, despite having to spend most of her time in the boot of various cars. I say once she’s abducted because her early scenes with her teenage friend in a mall are a little on the cringeworthy side. As if somebody who wasn’t a teenager had written what they thought a teenager would do and say.
Once in the boot of the car, the movie shifts along nicely as Casey desperately tries to alert motorists or anyone else unfortunate enough to be around know that she’s not keen on her journey. Morris Chestnut (of Kick Ass bit part fame) is mostly redundant as a cop who is also sleeping with Jordan (though we get no depth to that relationship at all) and Michael Eklund’s performance as the bad guy is pretty bland. I didn’t leave the screening worrying about any night terrors involving his family man turned looney character.
The Call is riddled with issues that probably aren’t worth listing but for the first two thirds of the film, it gets away with it because it is such an efficient thriller. The last third, well, what were they thinking. The movie spends the last third proving without doubt that they really had run out of ideas. To be fair, it was probably utterly inevitable from the start that Jordan would end up out in the middle of nowhere, on her own, with no phone signal. After she’s dropped her phone down a hole. A hole that’s about two hundred yards from a house that the police have just searched. A house known by the police to be owned by the killer. A house WITH NO REMAINING POLICE PRESENCE. But the last ‘twist’ is just weird. It’s almost as if the test audiences got blood lust and forced the studio at screwdriver point to film an extra scene. I nearly walked out, purely because I thought the film had finished. Very odd.
The Call is a mostly fun, very tense, efficient thriller with some good casting and a reasonable idea. At 94 minutes you’re not going to be looking at your watch but I guarantee you, if ever an ending made you look up and go ‘eh?’ this is it.
Check out the trailer here.