Review: The Call
Six months following an on-the-job mistake that led to the death of a young girl, 911 Operator Jordan Turner relieves her nightmare when a deranged man strikes again, and a kidnapped child phones for help.
Who’s in It?
Halle Berry is our heroine, playing the experienced and savvy responder, while Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) plays the precocious kidnapped youth.
It would be easy to make an analogy between the suddenly absurd shift that takes place in the third act of The Call to an abruptly lost cell phone signal in the middle of a conversation. As easy as that would be (see?), it still wouldn’t compare to the carelessness which with Brad Anderson’s muddled thriller operates.
Jordan Turner takes over a frantic call when an apparently inexperienced operator freaks. She is quickly reminded of a fatally egregious (and in fact jaw-dropping) mistake she made previously, and looks to atone in a similar situation. A lengthy phone call ensures between her and Casey, an innocent youth taking from a parking garage and thrown in the trunk of the car. Not taking her cell phone is one of the many mistakes this anemic though perverse criminal makes, nullifying any attempt by the film to make him sinister. When the call comes to smashing halt, however, Jordan takes the reins from some outrageously incompetent police officers to hunt for the missing girl.
Erring on the side of recklessness during much of it, and rightfully so, Anderson creates tension during a lengthy chat with quick edits, loud music, and sweeping pans of Jordan at her desk looking concerned. He mixes in some scares and bloody horrific endings for some innocent bystanders, as well as some uncomfortable, awkward close-ups. For the most part, the tension outweighs some of the more ridiculous things – like the huddling of operators around the phone call – and the requested suspension of disbelief isn’t daunting and makes for an entertaining escapadae. But then things change, delving deeper into the ludicrous.
At one point Jordan remarks that the hardest part of the job is not knowing what happens after the call has ended– something that wouldn’t make for a compelling movie. Well, Anderson’s incongruent finale isn’t compelling either – it’s so absurd that it’s almost offensive. The Call disobeys the laws of common sense, dumbs down cops and citizens, empties Los Angeles (there are a lot of places right off the freeway to hide in broad daylight) and clouds the judgment of its characters at every convenience.
What was once mediocre and amusing quickly becomes tedious, as a hastily put-together ending mars a mindless jaunt.
Should I See It?
Phone it in! (Sorry…)
On various occasions Jordan is told the following: ‘You’re the best,’ ‘You’re an all-star,’ ‘They can’t run this place without you.’ It’s the kind of patter someone spews to fill the silence, and is just as meaningless as everything else.