Directed by: Brad Anderson
911. We mostly don’t think of emergency services, that it until we need them. Having said that, we probably also don’t think much of the people who man those services, now we don’t mean the cops, Fire, and EMS personnel, but the Emergency Operators themselves. You know, the folks who field out calls, determining if we are having an actual emergency or are just calling to complaint that McDonald’s is out of hot sauce for our chicken McNuggetts. Yep. It is the operators who know whether to dispatch a cop running Code 3 to stop a murder or a break-in, animal control for a bat lose in our house, EMS because someone is having a heart attack, or firemen to put out a blaze.
While it is pretty safe that you never considered how exciting a movie about one of these folks who sit in a room and answers phones all day long could possibly be exciting, you’ll want to check out Halle Berry in The Call. Berry plays Jordan, a veteran 911 operator who takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl whose house has just been broken into. During the call a well-intention slip-up on Jordan’s part, causes the girl to be abducted and then killed. Now she is having PTSD problems and finds it difficult to perform her job. Fortunately, she is not only a fighter, but has the caring support of her friends and co-workers (including the cop she’s been dating, and her supervisor), so she is able to return to work, but this time a s a trainer of new operators. Only, several months later, she is once again thrust into a live-and death situation where the same thing is happening all over again and now Jordan realizes that she must confront the same killer in order to save the girl's life.
Again, how exciting or suspenseful can watching someone talk on the phone be? Well, you’d be surprised. Director Brad Anderson keeps the camera tightly focused on Jordan during these tense moments, blurring out all background images, and keeping the focus tightly on Jordan as she attempts to talk the new kidnapped girl Casey (Breslin) through her harrowing ordeal. Then, compounding the intensity of the film, is Casey who spends much of the time crammed inside the trunk of a car, or fighting off her attacker, so, yeah, there is plenty of suspense to go around. Much of what happens next, you see in the trailer, but don’t go to thinking that’s all there is to this film, as it does offer up some very interesting surprises (Nope, no spoilers here, you’re just going to have to see it for yourself).
So, yeah, there are many twists and turns in this film (a couple things the characters do that are strictly film conventions that leave you asking “Why?” but then you realize that, on some level they are simply to move the story forward. Still the filmmakers do tend to work them in clever ways so that they don’t seem too conventional. Ultimately, the film is not only quite entertaining to watch, it winds up being (mostly) believable, as well.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.