STARRING: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli, David Otunga, Jose Zuniga, Roma Maffia.
DIRECTED BY: Brad Anderson
Lemme tell you the story about the call that changed my destiny. Oh wait, no, those are Backstreet Boy lyrics. This is a completely different film, not based on the story laid out by the BSB in the 90’s. The Call is one of those “hey, that’s an idea!” movies that can be made on the cheap, feature a name actor/actress, and be released during a slow time of the year so it can make a little bit of money.
Jordan (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator, who gets a phone call from a girl whose house is being broken into by a strange man. Unfortunately, the cops don’t get there in time, and Jordan beats herself up about this loss, even though the 911 operators are supposed to remain detached. Cut to later, and Jordan has stepped off the phone lines and become a trainer, because the grief is just too much for her. You see, Jordan lives in a special world, where all the cops are too inept, and everyone knows this, so everyone just learns to blame themselves, instead of the cops. Anyway, while training some newbies, a colleague of Jordan’s gets a phone call from a girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted, and freaks out, so Jordan takes over.
Jordan leads the girl, Casey, through some pretty awesome tactics of letting people know where you are. Yet the cops seem incapable of finding her, including Jordan’s boyfriend Paul (Morris Chestnut), a police officer with the same skill set as Dewey from Scream. The cops are so terrible at their jobs, that Jordan decides to take measures into her own hands, instead of continuing to rely on a police force that can’t save a girl in a red car, with a missing tail light, knowing which exit she’s near, with paint dripping out of the vehicle.
And this is where I have a problem with the film. The cops are so unbelievably useless that it’s almost comedic. It’s like the writer of the film hates cops, and wrote a film to highlight his hatred of them. The fact that Jordan decides to go and find this girl on her own, without letting anyone know, or even possessing a weapon is just absurd. She’s not Liam Neeson from Taken. Her particular skill set involves being able to pick up a phone, frequently.
That being said, aside from the awful ending, there are several smart elements to the film. Every idea they come up with to try and let people know where she is, is rather clever. And, for what its worth, Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin turn in good performances as well. Still, I can’t get past the fact that the film should have been better. Director Brad Anderson has done some really terrific work with The Machinist and Session 9, as well as on episodes of Fringe and The Killing. He’s a solid director, and could have made a better movie without needing to dumb it down. I would have appreciated a darker take on the film, one which the 911 operator and the cops were really working together to find this girl, rather than a solo effort showcasing Berry.
FINAL GRADE: C