The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Call | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Call

A 911 operator, whose mistake led to the murder of a teenage girl, gets a shot at redemption.

Directed by: Brad Anderson
Starring: Halle Berry, Evie Thompson, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut

Jordan (Berry) is an instructor at a 911 call-center who quit her operating job six months previously after making an error that lead to the murder of a teenage girl. While showing a group of trainees around the center, Jordan is forced to take over a call from an operator stricken with panic. The call is from a teenage girl (Breslin) who woke up in the trunk of a car following her abduction from a shopping mall. Jordan determines not to let history repeat itself and attempts to save the abducted girl, whether she has to break her own rules or not.
A decade ago, the critical hits 'Session 9' and 'The Machinist' made Brad Anderson a film-maker to keep an eye on but, unfortunately, he seems to have gone the way of the Shyamalan, with a recent string of critical and commercial failures, supplemented by TV director-for-hire jobs, under his belt. It seems fitting then that he should team up with Halle Berry, an actress who has struggled to live up to her potential, known more for misfires like 'Catwoman' now than her Oscar winning turn in 'Monster's Ball'. Like Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner, she seems to receive an inexplicable level of negative attention. When 'The Call' was released Stateside over six months ago, many critics seemed to have made up their minds before seeing the film, thanks to Berry's presence, even mocking her choice of hairstyle.
Aware of its poor US reception, I was pleasantly surprised by 'The Call'. For an hour. Despite Anderson's irritating use of extreme close-ups and rapid fire editing, the film works as a somewhat tense thriller. For an hour. Essentially speaking into a headset for the opening hour, Berry holds your attention in a way few American actresses of her generation can. The point where the film falls apart comes when Berry removes the headset and turns into some sort of avenging vigilante, even stripping down to the obligatory white vest, for the final act. Things take a laughable turn at this point, as Anderson fills the screen with every serial killer cliche possible, even employing Culture Club's 'Karma Chameleon' in a particularly awkward "ironic" use of pop music to score a scene of brutality.
'The Call' begins as a fun piece of throwaway trash but by the hour mark you'll be tempted to hang up.

Eric Hillis