The luminous Halle Berry shows once again why she is an Oscar worthy actress--even a poor script and a mishmash of a plot can't diminish her.
The idea for "The Call" is very cool: a 911 dispatcher Jordan (Berry) gets a call from a teenager Casey (Abigail Breslin) who finds herself in a car trunk, speeding along an L.A. freeway with the psycho who kidnapped her.
Jordan talks and talks to Casey, trying to calm her down and find out where she is. Which, eventually, they do. They find Casey in a dripping basement with the kidnapper... and a less-than-satisfying ending.
Here's what the critics are saying:
"The Call" effectively taps into primal fears only to serve up a deflating bit of intended catharsis. On the way, it stoops to "a-ha" moments of back story via conveniently arranged photos, and teases out the threat of torture in the kind of bunker that's a popular choice among big-screen suburban psychopaths ("The Lovely Bones," "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"). In the process, Breslin's good girl learns to curse, but not before being half-undressed and subjected to her abductor's sadistic leer. But the movie's biggest letdown is the way its shift to action heroics makes Jordan's occupation, and its intriguing dramatic potential, beside the point. Steve Whitty, Star-Ledger
“The Call” experiences a brief, engaging upswing as Jordan and Casey race against time — and a finite cellphone battery — to piece together where the car is and attempt to alert other drivers (one of whom is a silver-haired Michael Imperioli, cruising by to remind you of other, superior odes to brute violence). Berry gives it her all, reminding you why she’s risen to greatness in better material (“Monster’s Ball”) and remains so watchable even in dreck like this. Sarah Stewart, New York Post
“The Call,” albeit nonsensical at times, is an effective and satisfying thriller, even if the acting by some of the supporting players isn’t exactly Oscar-caliber, and the script has the main characters making decisions that aren’t really consistent with who they’re supposed to be. Brad Anderson, a veteran director of TV thrillers and dramas like “The Killing,” “Fringe” and “Boardwalk Empire,” in addition to the vastly underrated Christian Bale psychological thriller “The Machinist,” does a fantastic job of making up for some of the script deficits by ratcheting up the tension and getting the most out of the copious talents of Oscar-winner Berry and Oscar-nominee Breslin. The result: “The Call” is this year’s first legitimate guilty pleasure. David Blaustein, abc.news
"The Call" loses its way a bit in the final third, as is usually the case when a story winds up in an underground lair. But it's brought to a satisfying close, one that may not hold water in the real world, but in the case of this slick little thrill ride, is just about perfect. Adam Graham, The Detroit Free Press
Halle Berry fans can rest assured: The actress' jarring poodle-cut hairdo isn't the worst thing about director Brad Anderson's suspense thriller "The Call." That distinction goes to the film's ending, an idiotic bit of audience pandering that short-circuits all that Anderson has taken pains to create. It's a shame, because Anderson -- who has honed his suspense skills on such films as 2004's haunting "The Machinist" and 2008's overlooked but intense "Transsiberian" -- does a lot right in "The Call." For 91 minutes of its briskly paced 94-minute running time, the film works as a tightly wound bit of pins-and-needles storytelling. Then, Anderson lets it all unravel in a three-minute stretch of cheap writing that not only betrays the characters he worked so hard to develop, but that also thumbs its nose at any audience members with a brain. Mike Scott, Times Picayune
"The Call" is rated R and runs 96 minutes.
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