Director: Brad Anderson
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chesthunt, Michael Eklund, David Otungo, Michael Imperioli
Written by: (also story) Richard D’Ovidio, (story) Nicola D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp
Running Time: 94 mins
Release date: 20th September 2013
Sometimes I could scream. I see a film that has a really interesting premise and the possibilities are endless and they are ruined by incompetence. It has happened several times this year already. The Purge, for example, had an excellent central idea but was poorly executed, as was Elysium. None more so than The Call, which starts off with the most intriguing idea around and goes from laughable to ludicrous to downright ridiculous in the space of 94 mins.
911 operator Jordan Turner receives a call from a troubled teenage girl telling her that a man has broken into her house. Jordan tries her best to calm her and find a way of delaying any possible danger to the girl while the police are on their way but in a moment of not thinking, Jordan makes a mistake. Six months later, and trumatised by the events, Jordan is now a trainer of new operators when a similar call comes in from teenager Casey, only this time she has been abducted and thrown into the back of a car, with only a mobile phone. Jordan has to bite the bullet and try and aid Casey, as they have very little for the police to work on, so to gain extra time and to help find her, Jordan talks Casey through to get clues. Jordan soon realises that the kidnapper is the same man who broke into the house six months earlier and so time is running out for Casey.
Now to most this sounds like a good idea for a tense and exciting thriller and you can see there is plenty of scope for a real gripping piece of cinema. In the hands of a solid director and a solid script writer, it would be but right from the off this has a lines that you find yourself laughing out loud to and I’m pretty sure they weren’t suppose to be funny. So the tension has already gone. Then we get into the second part of the film and you hope that things will get better. Nope, they start to slowly go downhill as more laughable lines are thrown out from the cast. A student of Jordan asks “Why aren’t you taking calls?” “Because I’m a teacher!” Yep, they are that bad.
It also doesn’t help that the kidnapper, a psycho with a reason for his fascination with blonde girls, is probably the most inept villain of all time. He cannot get a single thing right and so ends up making a mockery of the fine art of being psychotic. Instead of doing the obvious thing when something occurs on his journey, he goes in the opposite direction, leaving a bunch of clues along the way. he might as well call the police and tell them where he is. What makes it even more painful to watch is that the police are slower than a snail in picking up these clues and when it hits the finale act and Jordan has left her post to find Casey, the film goes into all out lunacy, as if we are watching outtakes from The Silence Of The Lambs to an ending that just makes you go…”What????”
Thankfully the film does have two saving graces in the form of Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. Berry, who still hasn’t been given a decent role since winning her Oscar, plays the distressed operator Jordan and she gives it everything she has, even if she has to deliver lines like “Stick your hand out the hole and wave it!” She also has the most scared looking hair ever but try to ignore it. Ms Breslin, one of the young stars who has managed to get through being a kid actor and show she is still stable, isn’t given the greatest role in the world, as she spends most of the time in the boot of a car but she gives it plenty of energy and attack.
If you like your films to be soo bad it’s funny then you have to make this a must see. If, however, you want a cracking thriller, then look elsewhere because this will frustrate the hell out of you.