To say that Halle Berry has had a roller coaster career would be an understatement. Between X-Men and her Oscar nominated performance in Monster’s Ball, Berry shortly became one of the most successful and forceful actresses in Hollywood in the early 2000s. From there, her filmography becomes a bit more complicated. While films like X2: The Last Stand and Cloud Atlas allowed her to really perform and shine, films like Catwoman, Gothika, and more recently Movie 43 tainted her reputation as a dramatic actress. While I do believe that Berry is a very talented actress, it’s really painful to see her potential wasted on awful films. When the first trailer for The Call was released, it honestly looked like a made for TV movie that needed to get a theatrical release after it attached big name stars to it. However, with Brad Anderson sitting in the director’s chair I began to get a little more excited because I absolutely loved what he did with The Machinist. While the film did provide some great performances, the lack of care to do anything substantial really hindered the movie as a whole.
The Call stars Halle Berry as Jordan Turner, a veteran 911 operator who receives a call from a girl, in which a bad decision results in the girl’s murder. Turner steps away from calls and into training new operators until she is forced to pick up the headset once again. When she receives a call from a girl who has just been abducted, she soon realizes that she must confront the killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.
One of the best parts of this film was Halle Berry’s performance. Her role called for a lot of emotion in dialogue and facial expressions, and she delivered them with intensity and true passion. Every time she was on screen, I was genuinely excited to see what else she could add to this performance. While it’s nowhere near Monster’s Ball, it was still really solid. Michael Eklund also delivered a fantastic performance as the villain Michael Foster. The script does a great job hiding his motivations and when I finally saw what he was doing and why he was doing it, chills were sent down my spine. While it seemed like Abigail Breslin was overacting at times, I think she did an overall good job reacting to the kidnapping situation in a realistic way.
I think the main problem with the film was that it was way too formulaic. With the amount of movies coming out today, you have to do something to make yourself stand out and The Call just felt like it was going through the motions. Because of this, all of the twists (other than Foster’s motivation) were very predictable and left me underwhelmed. When the film got to its explosive climax (the last 30 minutes), everything became completely unbelievable and somewhat silly to the point where people were laughing in the theater. On top of this, some of the cinematography, specifically in the trunk scenes, was way too in your face to the point of jarring and the film lacked style in other departments like editing, sound design, etc.
Overall, The Call is a pretty basic thriller. While it does grant audiences with some great performances, everything else just seemed very lackluster and almost like the crew didn’t want to be making this film. The formulaic story turned completely unbelievable left me very disappointed and somewhat cheated. While it’s no Movie 43 or Phantom, it’s just another run of the mill thriller that would best be watched on DVD or television.
Review by Nick Franco