Runtime: 1 HR, 35 MIN
Director: Brad Anderson
Writers: Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio, Jon Bokenkamp
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli
Halle Berry stars as a 911 operator in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) produced film The Call. Take a moment, let that sink in a bit- Halle Berry, Academy Award winner for Monster’s Ball and Golden Raspberry winner for Catwoman, is starring in a film produced by the same company that brings quality professional wresting into millions of American homes every week. What could possibly go wrong?
After inadvertently contributing to a young girls grizzly murder when trying to assist her over the phone Berry is now training 911 operators rather than taking the calls herself. While taking her new students on a walk through the call center she’s forced back into action as a call comes in from a kidnapped teen (Abigail Breslin) calling from her assailant’s trunk. They must quickly work together before her or her phone dies.
If you saw last year’s Gone starring Amanda Seyfried that should act as a good measuring stick for how much you’ll enjoy The Call. They’re both about someone racing against the clock to find a kidnapped girl, they’re both poorly written, and are both hilariously funny for all the wrong reasons. Like Gone I had a great time watching The Call; it’s like the screenwriters of both films read the same book about how to write an action thriller but most of the pages were smudged or missing. Exposition is clumsily handled, characters that are trying to help the victim make mindbogglingly decisions that have the opposite effect, and an already silly film takes an even sillier left turn off the cliff of believability in the final act. I’d expect nothing less from the script writing team made up of the creative minds of such classics as Thirteen Ghosts, Exit Wounds, Taking Lives, and another Halle Berry stinker Perfect Stranger.
You’ll fatigue quickly from seeing the endless amount of zoom in shots onto the face of a worried Halle Berry wearing her common woman wig and the screaming ramblings of Abigail Breslin of which I could barely make out 50% of what she was saying through the entire film. Some of this is offset by some of the films other funny quirks; for instance the entire 911 center seems transfixed by this one call as all the other operators are turned around in their seats listening intently on Berry’s one sided conversation. Almost every plot device, decision, and outcome has a hilarious outcome in a film where logic and common sense have no place or meaning.
This is the kind of film where you almost have to wonder if some of the film’s ridiculousness isn’t by design and the filmmakers’ knew the entire time what kind of movie they were making. Director Brad Anderson has a relatively good track record working in both TV and film on projects like Session 9, The Machinist, Fringe, Boardwalk Empire, and The Killing just to name a few. He either set out to make a B-movie or this film got completely out of his control.
The Call is a bad movie and my rating reflects that, but I’m still recommending it because it’s such a funny failure. I can’t say with any amount of certainty if The Call turned out the way it did on purpose or if it’s just an unintentional cinematic train wreck. Regardless, I had a great time and it’s hard to dismiss any film that can make such great and inappropriate use of Taco’s 1981 version of Puttin’ on the Ritz. Is it a stroke of genius? You tell me.