‘The Call’ Is Guilty Pleasure: Movie Review

Mar 15, 2013 6:00am
ht the call halle berry lpl 130314 wblog The Call Is Guilty Pleasure: Movie Review

Greg Gayne

Halle Berry‘s Jordan in the new film “The Call” is a Los Angeles 911 operator, but she’s not just any 911 operator.

Working in a nerve center known as the Hive, Jordan’s palpable inner beauty and her obvious outer beauty (isn’t that part of the reason you cast Halle Berry?) light up the Hive, despite the stressful job.  She’s also one of the best at that job, radiating confidence and commanding the attention of her co-workers, as well as one adoring cop, her boyfriend Paul (Morris Chestnut).

Following a make-out session with Paul on the balcony of the call center during her break, Jordan receives an emergency call from a terrified girl whose home is being broken into. Jordan does her best to help but after a series of instructions and a fatal mistake, the young woman is killed and, of course, Jordan blames herself. It’s a riveting scene that pulls you into the story and hooks your attention for what’s to come.

Six months later, Jordan is off the floor and now trains 911 operators. On this particular day, a new 911 operator in the Hive can’t handle a call from Casey (Abigail Breslin), a teen girl who was abducted from a mall parking lot and is locked in the trunk of a moving car. Fortunately, Casey has a disposable phone in her pocket, left at the mall by her best friend, which she’s using to call 911. Jordan, exasperated and still haunted by the young girl’s death six months ago, takes over the call — determined that this one won’t end like the other one did.

And this is where I stop spoiling the movie. “The Call,” albeit nonsensical at times, is an effective and satisfying thriller, even if the acting by some of the supporting players isn’t exactly Oscar-caliber, and the script has the main characters making decisions that aren’t really consistent with who they’re supposed to be.

Brad Anderson, a veteran director of TV thrillers and dramas like “The Killing,” “Fringe” and “Boardwalk Empire,” in addition to the vastly underrated Christian Bale psychological thriller “The Machinist,” does a fantastic job of making up for some of the script deficits by ratcheting up the tension and getting the most out of the copious talents of Oscar-winner Berry and Oscar-nominee Breslin. The result: “The Call” is this year’s first legitimate guilty pleasure.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

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