Director Brad Anderson’s thriller “The Call” is entertaining and unique only thanks to its ludicrous premise, and abundantly stupid characters. While the first half of the film presents glimmers promise with great tension, and taut atmosphere, it falters mid-way and never comes back from the depths of idiocy. Halle Berry is an experienced 911 operator who is tasked with helping a young girl who is being terrorized by a burglar, breaking in to her house. When the burglar kidnaps her, and the young girl is discovered in a shallow grave days later Jordan is traumatized and leaves her job. She blames herself for the girl’s murder. And for good reason. If you advise a victim to hide under the bed and keep quiet, then the phone is accidentally disconnected, why in the hell would you call them back knowing they’re still hiding and risk giving away their location?
Jordan is a consistently stupid heroine who can barely muster up enough good ideas in the film to be considered a remotely interesting or empathetic heroine. She has nothing but her job at the emergency center, and is forced back in to the station when another young girl is kidnapped in a mall parking lot. Of course, Jordan gets back in to her job thanks to another helpless young girl, and later on, we’re given a goofy revelation about the kidnapper that is so convenient, it’s kind of insulting toward our intelligence. For the most part, the first half involving the quest for redemption by Jordan through the new victim is involving, and managed to definitely keep me watching. Co-star Abigail Breslin gives a very passionate and intense performance as this horrified young girl struggling to stay alive amidst a psycho that’s gradually making mistakes and may snap any moment.
This allows director Anderson to challenge himself by allowing the narrative to unfold with Jordan guiding young character Casey through finding ways to escape such a confined spot like the car trunk. Anderson manages to evoke some unique very good chemistry between Berry and Breslin, even when they don’t share the screen for most of the film. However, at a point the movie takes a downward spiral in to pure inanity and eye roll inducing stupidity when the writer decides to change the formula. After being given a half assed and confusing origin to the kidnapper, “The Call” transforms from a thriller in to a goofy girl power revenge film.
It’s clear Halle Berry demanded or asked to do something beyond sitting down and talking on a phone for the movie, so as the finale rolls around she becomes Bat Woman, being able to catch details on the phone call that shockingly no other law official has caught on to. From there, she tracks down the killer, is able to find his secret underground lair without missing a beat, and single handedly takes on the kidnapper! Hell, who needs to call police for back up, allowing them to bust this murderer with an army? She can do it all on her own! It’s not like there’s a human life at stake here. Of course, she manages to pull off the major break in and toe to toe battle, because she’s Halle Berry!
“The Call” rides completely off the rails by the finale, and the film seems to completely embrace its stupidity when the writer seemingly has nothing left to offer with the gimmicky first half. It’s clear writer Richard D’Ovidio probably didn’t know how to end the story, so he fed us a half baked resolution that destroys the dramatic tension, and indicates that our characters have learned nothing by the time the credits have rolled. What begins as a pretty solid novel thriller, falls apart by the time it turns in to a idiotic girl power revenge flick. I really wish it had stuck to its initial respectable formula while giving us a heroine that’s somewhat familiar with terms like common sense, and intelligence.