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What’s it About?

When a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.

“The Call”

Directed by Brad Anderson

7 out of 10

By Vic

“The Call’ is a low key and admirable little thriller from Brad Anderson who brought us the underrated “Session 9,” and some killer episodes of  Fox’s “Fringe” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Anderson with writer Richard D’ Ovidio ( 13 Ghosts ) infuse “The Call” with a profound sense of respect and responsibility where it concerns the story, the actors and the emotions. 911 operators in this country are at times, unfortunately, unheralded heroes.

Anderson with the help of Oscar Winner Halle Berry ( X Men 2 and Die Another Day ) present a very somber  and eye opening look behind the scenes of the frazzling, challenging efforts put forth by these dedicated men and women who help so many during times of crisis. As they explore the tribulations of this high stress working environment, Anderson and Berry solidify easily that these men and women are professional but can eventually topple like a house of cards.

“The Call” explores that very thing and does so in an interesting and pliable fashion that leaves us with a gripping story. A story that may not come too easily to translate had the material been handled by some joe shmoo looking to make a melodrama out of the proceedings and characters.

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Halle Berry’s Jordan Turner is a hard working and dedicated 911 call center operator who takes the brunt of incoming calls during her hardened shift. She is delicate but is a pro at not getting emotionally addled and confused while handling the harrowing calls. She handles them with efficiency and proper protocol but one call changes that forever and Jordan is swept up into a dangerous and emotionally charged situation.

Having once failed (In her eyes and mind) to save the life of a kidnapping victim Jordan shifts to teaching new recruits seemingly as a result of her letting the poor victim down. It is a second chance at redemption story that Anderson handles well and competently. Jordan faces doubt and self admonition because she feels like she is not a good at keeping herself detached. She confides in her police officer boyfriend named Paul played by the always watchable Morris Chestnut.

Paul is a calm and soothing presence in Jordan’s erratic life and Chestnut does a good job at playing the role adeptly. Not knowing that he has a bigger role to play eventually. The bright star Abigail Breslin stars as Casey a like-able youth who is stalked by none other than the same perp from earlier in the film. One day after having spent some time at the local mall with a friend, Casey is abducted and thrown into the trunk of kidnapper Michael Foster played by Michael Eklund.

Back at the 911 call center, Jordan is forced by the steely but encouraging look of her supervisor , Maddy ( the versatile Roma Maffia of Nip / Tuck ) to take an incoming phone call from the young Casey as she is hauled away in a panic by the young psychopath. As Jordan tries her best to not fall apart, Berry handles the weight of the role with class and proficient effort.

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“The Call” gets many things right. It is fast paced, grounded and realistically executed. The everyday workings, goings on and routines are all respectfully handled and the film is dynamic in the layers it exposes thanks to a supporting cast and harrowing story. Breslin is fantastic here and she emotes terribly well. She is constantly reacting to her situation placing us within a sphere of suspense that is ready to burst at any time.

“The Sopranos” alum, Michael Imperioli, plays a good samaritan named Alan who despite his efforts to save Casey runs afoul of the antagonist. He is immediately a character we feel for as a result of his actions which makes his fate even harder to experience.

But Berry shines the most here as she balances the over wrought emotions and raw detachment. Not only does Anderson keep the pace up he does so without getting bogged down in conventions. The film at times even has a “Silence of the Lambs” practicality to it. Like that film, Anderson and Halle Berry display the emotions but never let go of the important creedo that an aloofness is sometimes likely.

Chestnut’s Paul and his partner are always a step behind the kidnapper as Jordan tries to piece things together. As we get to know the kidnapper we realize that the film isn’t about him but about Breslin and Berry’s characters which brings me to the one thing that left a bad taste in my mouth. The ending.

It didn’t fit and it was abruptly confusing and a bit derivative. It was tacked on and seemed like it belonged at the end of an installment of some movie trilogy to be picked up at a later date. That’s why I gave the film a 7 and not an 8. But like I said, “The Call” is an engaging and thorough thriller that is a bit above the tier of other recent thrillers like say Cusack’s “The Factory.” But do not fret, I believe that “The Call” is worth your time and it is a great character study that is imaginative, heart felt and will keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration. Recommended for a late Saturday night. Enjoy!

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