Movie Review: The Call (2013)

Ever since Halle Berry won the Oscar for 2001’s Monster’s Ball her selection of serious roles has been a little more than suspect. Gothika, Catwoman and Dark Tide were all either unforgettably bad or otherwise very forgettable.

Sadly, The Call did nothing to resurrect Ms. Berry’s career, or her waning reputation as a serious actress.

“The Call,” is a sad and squalid little piece of supposedly suspenseful film making. The bad guy in the film is a nasty piece of work, but that is not to say original in anyway. The psychopath kidnaps his victims, tosses them in a car trunk and then tortures and kills them. Movie viewers have seen this kind of criminal before many, many times.

Ms. Berry plays Jordan Turner, a 911 emergency operator in Los Angeles, normally a total professional at this high stress job. Lately Jordan become less cool as she now blames herself for “losing” teenager who called her to report she had been taken by who turns out to be a ruthless killer. Which of course begs the question: don’t 911 operators merely take the call and then pass it on to the correct authorities. Maybe staying on the line to support the caller until the police show up, but little more than that. So how come Jordan is so involved with this one murder?

Now, Casey, a 16-year-old girl played by Abigail Breslin has called Jordan. Casey has been abducted and tossed in the trunk of a car, but manage to secret a cell phone from her abductor. What Jordon should do is, of course, pass this on to the police and let them handle it. But well this is movie land and that is not what happens. Instead Jordan stay involved (too involved) with Casey and the crime.

Directed by Brad Anderson, The Call is both predictable and sleazy. No crime or suspense movie trope is over looked in this paint by the numbers screenplay: Casey drops her phone, nearly escapes just to be recaptured, the killer has a secret underground lair, and so on. Ms. Breslin screams, cries, and begs for mercy and help, all while dressed in little more than her bra. Ms. Berry only has two speeds: dead slow dull and frantic. Not for a minute does the audience buy that Jordan Turner is a real-life 911 operator in a real-life situation. There are plot holes that a speeding school bus could drive through without brushing the sides.

The Call is one of those movies that was flawed from concept to delivery and not even good performance could have saved. And none of the performances in this piece of tripe are that good.