The Call (2013)
A surprise hit last spring, The Call is a simple but rather effective thriller that wavers a bit in the end but not enough to derail your entertainment. Halle Berry stars as a 911 operator talking through a teen girl (Abigail Breslin, spending far too much time in a bra for my comfort) kidnapped in the trunk of a car. It has the hallmarks of the typical action thriller genre, namely our heroine working through her past trauma of inadvertently getting another young girl abducted by the SAME killer. The Call plays best as we think alongside our two embattled heroines, going step-by-step how to determine where she may be, what car she may be inside, and how to draw attention to her predicament. The writing is economical and fast-paced and mostly smart, having the police act like actual professionals. Director Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist) employs plenty of extreme close-ups that effectively draw upon the claustrophobia and urgency. For a solid two acts, the movie seamlessly transitions form one obstacle to another. Then the third act arrives where Berry decides to leave her post and take matters into her own hands. The film becomes far more predictable, conventional, and veers into the absurdity it had avoided for so long. The creepy killer has a half-hearted creepy back-story/fetish, Berry behaves far too cavalierly when she should be notifying the cops, and the ending defies all sensible logic. It’s meant to be a poetic punishment but, upon minor reflection, it’s entirely possible that this loose end will come back to haunt everyone yet again. In total, The Call is a breezy, suspenseful thriller that is well-acted and directed with style (the pounding electronica score doesn’t fit, though). The downturn at the end is disappointing but The Call is still worth taking.
Nate’s Grade: B