The Call has hit cinema screens everywhere! But is it a worthy thriller for audiences? John Dotson checks in with his full review!
Directed by: Brad Anderson Written by: Richard D'Ovidio (screenplay)
Richard D'Ovidio (story) &
Nicole D'Ovidio (story) &
Jon Bokenkamp (story)
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, disturbing content and some language Runtime: 95 Mins.
Starring: Halle Berry- Jordan Turner Abigail Breslin-Casey Welson Morris Chestnut- Officer Paul Phillips Michael Ecklund- Michael Foster David Otunga- Officer Jake Devans Michael Imperioli- Alan Denado Justina Machado- Rachel José Zúñiga - Marco Roma Maffia- Maddy Evie Thompson Leah Templeton Denise Dowse- Flora
So far in 2013, I'm beginning to notice a trend where potentially solid films are struggling to find a way to end the story. Last week's Dead Man Down had the same issues with landing on a good note, and the surprisingly disappointing Gangster Squad fell on its face during the finale. Unfortunately, the pattern continues this weekend with Brad Anderson's new thriller The Call. The film is definitely an intense thrill ride, but somehow manages to lose all momentum during the closing act. What could have been one of the year's biggest surprises is broken by an ending which proves sometimes less is more.
The film involves Jordan Turner (Berry), a 911 operator whose world is shaken by a psychotic maniac kidnapping young girls. After a call that goes terribly wrong, Jordan begins doubting herself as someone who is doing any good. She says to her boyfriend that her father once told her that being a sufficient police officer usually meant the difference between a person's life, and once you stop accomplishing this it's time to throw in the towel. Jordan then decides she is best suited to train the 911 operators to do their jobs, instead of helping the callers themselves.
One day, during her first time on the new job, a similar call is placed to one of the operators. A new girl named Casey Welson (Breslin), has been kidnapped calling from a disposable cell phone. The operator is overwhelmed by the extreme nature of the call, so Jordan steps in to ease the situation. Jordan soon realizes that this is no coincidence and her helping Casey will justify the mistake she made in the past. Jordan sets out to save Casey from this maniac by any means necessary.
One of the greater aspects about the first two-thirds of this thriller is the realism it brings to the story. What makes the subject so scary is this happens on a day-to-day basis. Young girls get kidnapped all the time and most of the time they are never found. We see this a lot with Amber-Alerts all over local and national television. Hell, I even receive them on my cellphone now. The Call does an incredible job depicting how these events affect everyone, including the 911 operators. The realism is what keeps you invested throughout the first half of the movie, and trust me, it's incredibly intense.
Another factor which heightens the material is the performances from Berry and Breslin. I've never been a fan of Halle Berry, but it's hard to dismiss her in the movie. She is very convincing as an individual desperate to save a young girl. Breslin is also solid as a victim, but I wouldn't say this is the best fit for her. Honestly, any actress could have played the part of the kidnapped girl, but she does a fine job.
My largest aggravation is how the screenwriters handled the teenager-killing psychopath played by Michael Ecklund. The writers made one of the biggest mistakes you can have, which is having the need to reveal too much. Part of what makes his character such a force in the beginning is the mystery. Yes, at some point we have to know who he is, but there is a place where you can leave a small amount of uncertainty. The ending went above and beyond to pull the curtains on his role and it was entirely not needed.
Which brings me to the complete mess of a finale. What started out as a great suspense-thriller, turns into a completely predictable horror film. What ‘s bad is the fact it even utilizes most of the cliches horror flicks are known for. You know the moment where a character pisses you off for going in that dark room alone? Yes, this happens... and then some. I do not understand why the writers decided to take this direction, but it pretty much killed the movie.
The 411: Bottom line, The Call is an intense thriller with some solid performances. There is tremendous energy through the first portion of the film that will have you clenching your seat. Plus, the depicted kidnappings have a shed of realism which increases the audience engagement. Unfortunately, the finale will leave most viewers unsatisfied and disappointed by the finished product. My best advice is to wait for this one to hit home video.