Friday, March 15, 2013


The Call

The Call "911, what's your emergency?" You probably hope that you'll never have to make a 911 call and to hear this line. But perhaps you always wonder what it's like during such a call. Sometimes, 911 calls even make to the news. Besides those prank calls, 911 calls are usually about life and death. That's definitely the case in director Brad Anderson's new thriller "The Call" (USA 2013 | 96 min.). The film is a mix bag of intensely frightening moments and laughable ludicrous plots. It's good entertainment nevertheless.

There are 240 million 911 calls each year. One of the calm voices speaking to those often hysterical callers comes from veteran LAPD 911 dispatcher Jordan Turner (Halle Berry). After she fails to save a girl from a home intruder, she feels responsible for the tragedy. To avoid taking another 911 call which reminds her about the incident, she becomes a trailer. She advises newly-hired 911 dispatchers not to get emotionally attached to the callers and not to promise anything on the line. It's safe for us to anticipate that she is unable to follow neither of her own advices.

Right in the middle of giving those advices, Jordan is drawn back on the phone line. This time the caller is a girl named Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin). Casey is kidnapped from a shopping mall by a serial killer Michael Foster (Michael Eklund). Casey calls 911 from the trunk of the car using a prepaid cellular phone which cannot be traced by the GPS system. Obviously, Jordan attaches herself both personally and emotionally to Casey. And it's safe for us to guess again, she may be Casey's only hope to survive.

Halle Berry in The Call

Director Brad Anderson deserves the credit for getting the audience engaged. There are plenty predictable as well as unexpected thrilling moments in the film. Even you foresee something bad might happen, when it happens on the big screen, you still scream. Then you might laugh for being tricked into screaming. The sharp contrast between 911 dispatchers' calmness (at least they appear to be) and callers' panic makes the story even more dramatic, especially during the first half of the film.

As if the film's creators run out of ideas about how to clean up the exciting chaos in the first half of the film, the film becomes quite sloppy after going into the second half of the film. It's no longer enough for Jordan to getting emotionally involved with Casey. The film needs her to be a brave hero to save Casey, besides looked astonishingly beautiful sitting in that 911 dispatcher chair.

Clearly, she seems losing her cool and acts without sound judgment. When people in the audience start to yell at the screen telling Jordan about what to do and about what is coming, you know Jordan's credential for being a 911 dispatcher is long gone.

Finally, I would like my phone to be able to flash the big "no signal" sign when that happens. I don't think any phone can display that except Jordan's phone.

"The Call," a TriStar Pictures release, opens on Friday, March 15, 2013 at Bay Area theaters.

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