“The Call” features Halle Berry as a 911 Operator who gets involved with a kidnapping in progress and attempts to talk the victim through a series of things she can do in order to help the police track her down.
Surprisingly, it puts together a halfway decent movie for 3/4 of its runtime.
Unfortunately, the final act is a ludicrous, laughable, let down.
Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator who makes a mistake on the job that has fatal consequences. When a caller is disconnected during a home invasion, Jordan makes the mistake of redialing the home. The ringing phone gives away the hiding spot of the young girl who called, and the intruder, who was about to leave, returns to finish the job.
With the death of a young girl on her hands, Jordan has trouble returning to her headset. In fact, when she returns to work, she transitions into a trainer’s capacity. However, when another young girl (Abigail Breslin) calls in as she’s being abducted, Jordan is forced to take over the call from an inexperienced operator. She talks the girl, who’s locked in the trunk of a car and calling on a disposable phone with no GPS chip, through a series of steps to make it easier for the police to track her.
When the kidnapper begins to get inconvenienced by the girl’s signals for help, innocent people begin to get caught in the crossfire. Everything escalates as the police close in by following the trail. To top it all off, Jordan eventually realizes that the kidnapper is the same person who killed the girl whose house she called back.
The world of a 911 Operator is something new to me on film. For “The Call”‘s first two acts, we get to see all the distress, all the violence, and all the horror that they have to deal with. Putting one of them in the position of trying to talk a kidnap victim through an ordeal is a clever concept… I’m not suggesting it was a threat to win an Academy Award or anything, but the beginning of the movie was relatively tense, and held my interest well enough. The combination of watching an operator do her thing, with all her notes and codes and communications to Police, plus the kidnapping, was keeping my interest fairly well.
Unfortunately, whatever modicum of goodwill “The Call” amassed during it’s time at “The Hive” (the 911 call center), it completely discarded when Berry’s Jordan went looking for the girl herself, off-shift. The film can’t resist having the finale be a confrontation between her and the kidnapper (shown in trailer, thus not a spoiler), and it winds up paying the price. The final act of this movie is as dumb as anything I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s implausible, poorly scripted, and clichéd. We’re talking serious crash and burn, people.
Berry gives an excellent performance here, for the majority of the film. She’s frightened, empathetic, and determined, all in alternating measures. 911 operator must be a brutal job, and Berry emotional conveys the weight of it for us well. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was much she could do with the finale, it was pointless, and her performance in that portion reflected it.
“The Call” was a middling movie that plummeted to the ranks of the unwatchable with its eye-rolling conclusion. Combined with the fact that it features jarring, annoying direction throughout, it winds up being a film that I can’t recommend to people in good conscience.