Another Friday is upon us and another slate of new releases is hitting the theatres all across the country to run audiences everywhere through a wide variety of emotions. "The Call" is a tightly wound thriller that puts us into the 911 Call, as an emergency operator fights to save the life of a young kidnap victim.
It's just another day for veteran 911 operator Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) when she receives a call from a young girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted. While Jordan and the first responders fight to save this young girl's life, Jordan soon realizes that this girl's abductor is the same man that was on the other end of a 911 call went horribly wrong for Jordan. Given a second chance at redemption, Jordan will stop at nothing to insure the safety of this young girl and that justice is done.
Director Brad Anderson steps into "The Call" and makes what could have very easily been an overdone episode of "Law & Order" and at least turns it into a half way decent thriller, until the third act where it kind of jumps off the rails. Anderson's other films like "Session 9" and "The Machinist" do a very solid enough job at building tension in their narratives and Anderson continues that trend as a great blend of music, intense close ups and dramatic reveals move us through at a healthy clip, leaving the exposition to a bare minimum and giving us as much of the chase as they possibly could but it's in the script that a fair bit of this movie falls pretty flat.
Granted I will be the first person to admit that this a movie, and you have to suspend your disbelief somewhat in order to let the characters get where they need to go, however the script by Richard D'Ovidio leaves far too much to be desired. By using tired plot devices and things that just ended up as unbelievable and downright corny along with some fairly weak dialogue, we get taken out of the tension of the overall story especially in the final act of the film where logic and any quality dialogue just go straight out the window. Thankfully Anderson does just enough to jolt the audience back into this tense pot boiler thanks to some solid performances from this ensemble.
Halle Berry does a fine enough job with the material she is given as the emotionally broken yet tough 911 operator, even though her ultimate resolution was more than a little clunky, she makes it work as best she can. Abigail Breslin in what is undoubtedly the first of many "Look at me I'm older now" roles plays the kidnap victim quite well as she effectively shuttles through a wide gamut of emotions during her ordeal. She never played it with any kind of blind histrionics, it all had a purpose and is probably the best performance of the film and I could easily see her get the kind of roles that Chloe Moretz turns down in the future. The rest of the ensemble was simply there as Morris Chestnut, WWE Superstar David Otunga, Roma Maffia and Michael Eklund all go through the motions and there was a Michael Imperoli cameo that with some minor tweaking could have very easily been one of the more memorable things we had seen on screen this year. Nobody was bad, but it wasn't a question of anyone standing out either.
To be fair about it all, "The Call" is a B-movie and for the bulk of the picture it actually embraces that and works as a pretty decent and fun thriller that generates some genuinely tense moments, until the end when it just crumbles going off the rails into a fairly lazy ending. There's enough to make it worth a look, but you don't need to rush either.
3 out of 5 stars.
"The Call" is now playing at theatres all across Canada, check with your local listings for show times.