Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: Halle Berry is Good in "The Call"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 60 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Call (2013)
Running time:  94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence, disturbing content and some language
DIRECTOR:  Brad Anderson
WRITERS:  Richard D'Ovidio; from a story by Richard D'Ovidio, Nicole D'Ovidio, and Jon Bokenkamp
PRODUCERS:  Bradley Gallo, Jeffrey Graup, Michael A. Helfant, Michael Luisi, and Robert Stein
EDITOR:  Avi Youabian
COMPOSER:  John Debney

THRILLER/CRIME with elements of action

Starring:  Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli, Justina Machado, Jose Zuniga, Roma Maffia, Evie Louise Thompson, Denise Dowse, Ella Rae Peck, Jenna Lamia, and Ross Gallo

The Call is a 2013 thriller and crime film starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin.  The film follows a veteran 911 operator who takes an emergency call from a teenaged girl who has just been abducted.

The film focuses on Jordan Turner (Halle Berry), a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) veteran 9-1-1 operator.  One evening, Jordan takes a 911 call from Leah Templeton (Evie Louise Thompson), a frightened teenager, when tragedy strikes.  Six months later, Jordan is now a trainer of new 911 operators, when she is forced to become an operator again after an inexperienced operator takes a 911 call she cannot handle.  Back in a situation she had hoped to avoid, Jordan must help Casey Weldon (Abigail Breslin), a teen girl who has just been abducted.  As Jordan tries to work with Casey, she realizes that a terror from her past has unexpectedly returned.

After watching The Call, which I greatly enjoyed, I realized that Halle Berry is at her best as an actress when the characters she is playing are in a bad place.  When Halle’s characters are being menaced (Gothika) or when they are living life on the edge (Monster’s Ball), Halle has a hit movie or critically acclaimed film.  Well, The Call features Halle played both – a tormented woman seemingly living on the edge of sanity.  Jordan Turner is menaced by the fact that a teen girl has been abducted by a terrible human being, and she is living on the edge as guilt eats away at her professional life.

The Call received what can be described as mixed reviews, but it was a hit.  I am giving it a very good review, and it is a hit with me.  I can see myself watching this again – in its entirety or in parts – whenever it starts appearing on basic cable channels or on local over-the-air television.

Abigail Breslin is quite good as the victim, Casey Weldon, being hysterically frightened or righteously angry, whichever a particular scene requires.  Breslin does not come across as the typical “missing white girl,” pure fluffy innocence and absolute virginal whiteness.

The Call has some holes in the plot.  The characters make some wrongheaded decisions, even when not under duress.  You have to really suspend disbelief because you know real people might have made smarter choices.  The big hole, however, is the villain.  He’s like a crystal meth-addled version of Hannibal Lector, which makes The Call’s last act sometimes seem like a cheesy copy of the last act of Silence of the Lambs.

Still, this is mostly good stuff.  Like Taken, The Call is a compact and mean little thriller that is determined to punch the audience to attention.  Halle Berry needs to do movies like The Call more often.

7 of 10

Sunday, September 01, 2013

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