The Call - Review by Stu
The Call could be easily be mistaken for a straight-to-DVD late 90s film due to its generic look and feel. After perusing director Brad Anderson’s (The Machinist) filmography I wasn’t surprised to see that the majority of his work has been in the wonderful world of television. His latest effort feels like an extended episode of a nondescript police television show. Halle Berry stars as veteran 911 Operator Jordan Turner who is forced to face her demons as a call goes horribly wrong when a young girl is kidnapped by a potential serial killer. By no means a perfect film, The Call delivers enough thrills and takes enough chances to warrant a watch.
The film opens with an entertaining montage of 911 calls, ranging from the ludicrous all the way up to homicidal. One can only imagine the bizarre phone calls that would be received in such a role. The sequence quickly educates the audience in how to take an emergency call and how resources are dispatched. I appreciated that the film took time to show us how it is done; it showed respect for people in the role considering they deal with so many highly stressful situations. Anderson’s television background comes to the fore in his camera work. Without being too critical its best described as dull. There are very few interesting angles and the camera seems to hang around long enough only to catch the actors say their lines. instead it should be setting a mood or giving us further insight into the world he’s creating. Which is a shame, since this is a world that I would liked to have seen more of. The only time he did anything different was employ slow motion during scenes of ultra-violence. I found the decision a little disturbing as if he was relishing a little too much in moment. The slow motion really took me out of each scene, which I’m not sure was the directors’ intent. Despite this he at least keeps the action ticking over at a break neck pace. Again this may be due to the fact he's probably used to working within the time constraints of television.
In terms of casting Halle Belly is great as the lead. I’ve always been a huge fan of her work. Despite films like Catwoman and Die Another Day, she has taken on some far meatier roles resulting in Monster’s Ball, Losing Isaiah and even Cloud Atlas. She really has a great presence on screen. She has an ability to convey warmth and integrity and I hope she returns to more substantial performances. However if they ever made a Bobby Brown bio, Halle Berry with her cropped perm hair cut is a dead ringer for a young Whitney Houston. I’m not sure if the world is ready just yet for that one though. Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame has the bulk of screen time and performs admirably as Casey Welson the victim of the kidnapping. In a role which could have easily become tedious. Rounding out the supporting cast is the always smooth Morris Chestnut (pictured above) as Officer Paul Phillips and Michael Imperioli (Sopranos) as the world's most unfortunate limousine driver.
Without engaging in any spoiler shenanigans I have to address the final 20 minutes of the film. The Call gets my respect because it at least attempts something different despite trudging through the usual clichés of the genre. I came away from it thinking, they didn’t quite stick the landing but it was a hell of a shot. This isn’t a particularly memorable film but will satisfy your cravings if you’re looking for something trashy.
The Call is in theatres from the 16th of May. If you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to leave a comment below.