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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Movie Review: The Call (2013)

The Call 
Cast: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Ecklund, Michael Imperioli 
Genre: Crime Thriller
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $68 million

Plot: Veteran 911 operator Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin) who has been kidnapped & thrown into a truck of a madman's car. But with the clock ticking, Jordan soon realises she must confront the killer from her past to put an end to a serial killer's haunting rampage 

'Solid Phone Booth- Meets- 911- Emergency- Operator Effort'

Yet another so-called Hollywood movie trashed by so-called professional movie critics. Sigh, yes it's formulaic, yes it's kind of predictable, but thanks to the twists and the performances by Halle Berry and Michael Ecklund, who plays the creepy and obnoxious villain, these are what holds this film together and prevent it from falling apart completely. Strangely, The Call is produced by American Wrestling organisation, WWE via WWE studios

Halle Berry plays a 911 operator/dispatcher named Jordan Turner at a call centre in Los Angeles, who answers to thousands of emergency calls every day, but whose world is rocked when a distressed call from a young girl who is abducted by a murderer, leads to tragedy. Afterwards, she relieves her position and takes on a more hands-off approach. 6 months later, she receives another call from a young woman, Casey played by Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin, who turns out is abducted by the same man who murdered that other girl & of whom fits the description on the computer's database. Jordan now faces a race against time to find out who he is, where he is and to go to lengths and beyond to save Casey, as well as to capture this guy. Even if by means of doing it all by herself. 

There hasn't really been a movie that is told from the perspective of an emergency call centre: there have been many cop movies, but never have there been films that are centred around what happens on the other end of the emergency services. One may argue some of the things that happen in The Call are exaggerated or wouldn't happen in real life, but this is a movie based on a fictional story and with fictional stories, you can take any idea and do what you want with it. That, and as you sit through it, you often wonder: ''why didn't s/he do X, Y or Z''. Yet this one is a pretty good effort. 

After seeing this movie, it makes me appreciate and understand how strenuous, tense and emotionally stressful it can be as a 911 or 999 operator, being on the receiving end of the call, - yet not being able to see his/hers face and have that one-to-one interaction. It's tough knowing that that other person has placed their faith in you... and that one wrong move or decision can prove costly. 

The film is well-constructed and despite its predictability level the pacing of it is good and is somewhat like 1994's Speed with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. That and the movie itself isn't too long. It has enough twists and turns to make it watchable, sustainable and compelling all the way through towards the end. The third act of the film I rather enjoyed a great deal; however, the ending was a bit of a cop-out and very weak, given the kidnapper had put Casey, Jordan and that other girl through hell - and so I felt he deserved an even bigger punishment. As a result, it does bring the movie down slightly. I think though that had this film been rated 18 or was even more violent and darker, it would make for an even better movie - and perhaps it would have ended better too. 

Also, a lot has been said about Halle Berry's performance, but I thought she was terrific as Jordan and this is, therefore, one of her best performances in my opinion. 

It's got that nervy-yet adrenaline pumping feel to it that really sets your pulse racing, and the film takes you on this roller-coaster ride of emotions and it makes you feel as if you are part of this team of Jordan, the L.A cops and the L.A emergency's call operator's services. That you become emotionally attached to them and are with them, every step of the way in nailing this maniac. 

Final Verdict:

Halle Berry sells her performance and proves she can carry a movie as a leading actress, backed up by an interesting narrative and story-line. She really hasn't had a role like this before, and probably won't get one like this again. I know people rave about how great she was in Monster's Ball, but I loved her performance as Jordan and as that character, she goes all out to save that girl's life.  Michael Eckland was good too as the baddie. 

But for the cop-out third act ending, The Call is a really good, solid thriller that is part -Phone Booth set in an emergency call centre that knows what it wants to do as a movie, and where it wants to go, direction wise. I just wished it had that killer- no pun intended- last third of the film: had that been the case, it would have been even more satisfying, as well as better.

Ignore the professional reviews and watch this movie and judge for yourself. 

Formulaic, predictable with a lacklustre ending, - yet if you can accept everything else and enjoy the rest of the movie but the resolution of it, like I did, then The Call is definitely one worth seeing. 


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