Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Call

Being a 9-1-1 operator must be a pretty tough job. I mean I can't stay on the phone with a telemarketer longer than five minutes without wanting to jump off a bridge, let alone trying to deal with life and death situations in a heartbeat. To convey this is a film was always going to be tough, and would greatly weigh on the acting chops of the lead star, but, I'm pleased to say, The Call pulls it off pretty well.

The Call stars Halle Berry as Jordan Turner, a 9-1-1 operator. One day Jordan receives a panicked call for a young girl named Leah. An intruder has broken into Leah's house which leads to Jordan suggesting that Leah finds hiding spot. Once she does the call is disconnected. Jordan calls her back, but this only leads the intruder to Leah's hiding spot. In the days afterwards a distraught Jordan watches on the news that Leah was found dead. This takes its toll on Jordan, as she vows to turn her back on the job.

Now, 6 months later Jordan is working as a 9-1-1-operator trainer when a trainee comes up against a difficult call. Reluctantly taking over, Jordan is once again pulled into a similar situation; only this time with a girl named Casey has been abducted, and is calling from the trunk of a moving car. With no initial evidence to go on, Jordan must not only try and save Casey, but also face up against the traumatising memories that happened 6 months ago.

The success of The Call for the most part rests upon the shoulders of Halle Berry. Berry, who shot to stardom for her role in the X-Men series and for winning an Oscar for her performance in Monster's Ball, is absolutely fantastic here. Instead of coming across like some kind of action hero, her portrayal is fragile and honest. Even when the films reaches it's climax, don't worry, no spoilers, and Jordan decides to take a direct approach to finding Casey, she doesn't feel untouchable or indestructible to the viewer. This is something that's hard to get right on film, but thanks to Berry, it's convincing.

After the opening scene that shows a birds eye view of the city as a background chatter of numerous 9-1-1 calls play, it hits a steady and unrelenting pace. It doesn't feel rushed; it's the kind of film that knows how to use its time perfectly. Blending a superbly simplistic plot with heavy tension, The Call just about ticks off everything that makes for a successful thriller. This also includes Michael Eklund who plays the kidnapper.  Despite the fact that Eklund is probably typecast to hell and back as a murder, kidnapper, rapist and general scumbag, he's terrifying here as he is believable. Though his back-story is a little more cookie cutter than unique, he still comes across like a real threat. He's like a blend of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and The Spider from Along Came a Spider - you know, just without The Spiders husky voice and Buffalo Bill's method of tucking away his manhood.

Sadly it's a film that may be overlooked by many, as it doesn't star the cast of The Avengers or cost $500+ million. But these types of films work better on a low budget, as with smaller productions often come more interesting ideas that are willing to take a chance. The Call may be by the numbers to a certain degree, but it ultimately ends up being a thrilling, nail biting and often terrifying peek behind the receiver of an 9-1-1 call. Backing up the simple yet effective concept with two fantastic lead performances in the form of Berry and Eklund, The Call is a great film that's not to be missed.

The Call doesn't hang up on tension and gets a 4/5, []

Denis Murphy

The Call at CeX

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