Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator with a real knack for the job. She nimbly talks people through emergencies, be they genuine or of the ridiculousvariety; until she messes up. One night, perhaps a bit too casual in her demeanor and readiness due to a brief bit of smooching with a police officer (Morris Chestnut), Jordan makes a huge mistake while talking a teenager girl through a home invasion. The mistakes costs the girl her life and leads Jordan away from the 911 desk into a classroom where she teaches future operators on the dos and don’ts, that is until she finds herself having to take over a call with more than a few similarities to her last one.
The premise for The Call is promising. The execution is lazy, uninteresting and on more than a few occasions laughable. Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist) and a script by a trio of writers (primarily Exit Wounds’ scribe Richard D’Ovidio), The Call never rises above a so-so episode of any procedural, even if the cast is largely game. Berry’s solid here, with a real authority in her presence behind the 911 desk, even if the later horror-tinged moments feature yelps a shade too wide-eyed. Abigail Breslin too is fine as Casey, the second teen girl to call for assistance after being kidnapped and locked up in a man’s trunk. Breslin has little to do but shout lines like, “Please, no!” or “No, please!” Yet, the terror is genuine.
That’s about it for positives; two perfectly serviceable performances that could likely be replicated by dozens of actors on television most Tuesday nights. The story is never tense, hindered by an array of silly logic gaps, ranging from a large swath of cops checking out a suspect’s home but not it’s front-yard to multiple homicides made in broad daylight, unseen by all because it would get in the way of the story. Anderson tries getting flashy on occasion to liven up the proceedings up, but it’s so rare it distracts and ends up being nothing more than a few absurdly tight close-ups.
The first half is dull, then jumping into utter goofiness as Berry’s operator gets frustrated with the search for Casey and decides to hunt down the madman (played with sweaty tics by Michael Eklund) by herself. It leads to an ending that produced far more chuckles in the theater than screams, even as the bloodshed mounted.
The Call opens wide all across Seattle tomorrow.