Film: "The Call"; Cast: Halle Berry, Morris Chestnut, Michael Elkund, David Otunga, Abigail Breslin and Evie Thompson; Director: Brad Anderson; Rating: ***
An engrossing suspense thriller, "The Call" is an interesting slice of life of a '911' call operator. This astutely written script by Richard D'Ovidio follows the template of "Cellular" and "Phone Booth", where the life-line of the film is the telephone call.
The film focuses on how these emergency call operators at times go beyond the call of duty.
Jordan Turner (Halle Berry), the daughter of an ex-policeman works at the Los Angeles Emergency Call Center, which is also known as the Hive.
The film takes you directly into the Hive where, against the backdrop of various emergency calls, Jordan Turner answers a call from a frantic teenager Leah Templeton (Evie Thompson), claiming that a prowler has entered her house. Jordan pacifies her and tries her best to save the teenager, but unfortunately the entire emergency exercise goes awry when the line disconnects and Jordan returns the call.
Distraught with the turn of events, Jordan is constantly burdened with guilt. She takes a break from the Hive's active action and six months later, she is training novices.
One day while taking some trainees on an induction tour of the Hive, another '911' operator gets a call from a young girl named Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), who is kidnapped from a mall and now locked in the trunk of the kidnapper's car. The operator freezes and Jordan takes over.
As it turns out, the kidnapper is the same man (Michael Eklund) from the previous incident, and although Jordan doesn't know this right away, she still views the call as personal and a way for her to possibly redeem herself.
With some nail-biting suspenseful moments, "The Call' makes you feel for the victims and emotionally plugs you with the call operators, though much of the film is about Jordan's wits to calm and rescue Casey.
Halle Berry, as Jordan, is effective and genuine albeit with her gigantic wig that is in tune with her character. Despite the space constraint, Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson locked up in the trunk of the car delivers a nerve-wrecking performance. Micheal Eklund as the supremely creepy psychopath is strained and not completely substantial.
With an exceptional storyline, "The Call" is a conventional linear, non-messed-up story that keeps you on the edge of your seat with effective and rousing filmmaking by Brad Anderson, who has previously made "The Machinist", "Session 9", "Transsiberian" and "Vanishing on 7th Street". Anderson has managed to ferret good performances from rest of the cast and has maintained good production values of the film.
Unfortunately, after a rock solid beginning, it is the last 20 minutes that disappoint. The premise suddenly seems to disintegrate, as it is unintelligently put together. The downfall begins when Jordan tries her hand at first hand investigation followed by perverted violence and some cheap inferences of incest that makes the film lose its appeal and stature.
Nevertheless, this film is worth a watch.