MRR Review: "The Call"

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A longtime 911 operator must confront a killer from the past in order to save a young girl's life.
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MRR Review: "The Call"

-- Rating: R
Length: 94 minutes
Release Date: March 15, 2013
Directed By: Brad Anderson
Genre: Thriller

Screenwriter Richard D'Ovidio's "The Call" takes the audience on a suspense-filled ride. Following in the footsteps of previous films like "Cellular" and "Phone Booth," the movie's story line begins with a simple telephone call. "The Call" pits a female heroine against a treacherous serial killer, both of whom are determined to be the one to decide the fate of a young female in peril. Although the movie opened to mixed reviews, it did quite well at the box office, raking in more than $17 million during its opening weekend.

Award-winning actress Halle Berry aptly plays the movie's lead role of Jordan Turner, an experienced 911 operator who works in the part of the Los Angeles emergency call center known as the hive. A few years before, Turner was shaken to the core during one of the most unforgettable 911 calls of her career. A young girl called reporting that someone was breaking into her home. Turner talks the girl into hiding from the intruder and then the call is cut off. She immediately hits redial, but the phone's ring only alerts the intruder to the girl's location and she is subsequently killed by the madman.

Turner takes a break from the hive's activity and moves into a position where she trains new recruits. One day while taking some trainees on a tour of the hive, another 911 operator gets a call from a young girl who has been kidnapped and is locked in the trunk of the kidnapper's car. The operator freezes and Turner takes over. The suspense-filled story line has Turner doing all she can to calm the girl down, coach her on how to kick out the car's tail light, and alert other drivers to her presence and look for the emergency release button.

Eventually the kidnapper stops the car and goes to get the terrified teen only to find her with a cell phone in hand. Once he takes the phone from her, Turner realizes it is the same villain who killed the other girl several years before. As her boyfriend, an officer with the LAPD, searches for the kidnapped girl, Turner decides to take matters into her own hands and she also goes in search of the killer. Turner eventually finds the villain's lair before he harms the frightened teen, and the rest of the story depicts the quintessential struggle of good versus evil.

Halle Berry was on a successful path with earlier roles in movies like "The Flintstones" and "X-Men," as well as television programs such as "Living Dolls" and "Knots Landing." It was her portrayal of Leticia Musgrove in the 2001 smash hit "Monster's Ball" that won her an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and solidified her well-deserved celebrity. Berry went on to play starring roles in "Gothika," "Catwoman," "X-Men: The Last Stand," and "Dark Tide."

Abigail Breslin does a spectacular job playing the role of the teen Casey Welson, despite the hardship of most scenes being filmed in a space built to look like the inside of the trunk of a car. Breslin made her film debut at the tender age of six when she played alongside Mel Gibson in the 2002 hit film "Signs." She went on to make appearances in many television shows, including "Grey's Anatomy" and "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," and also played lead roles in popular films such as "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" and "My Sister's Keeper." Her role as Olive Hoover in the 2006 movie "Little Miss Sunshine" won Breslin a Critic's Choice Award for Best Young Actress and several other awards and nominations.

Michael Eklund did a superb job at bringing out the villain in his role as the serial killer Michael Foster. Eklund, who made his acting debut in 2000, has had plenty of experience with suspense and thriller movies, having played roles in films such as "House of the Dead," "88 Minutes," and "Walk All Over Me."

Director Brad Anderson cut his teeth on indie productions like the film "Next Stop Wonderland" and the television production "The Wire." Despite this being his first truly commercial film, he shows off his talent by doing what he does best-keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

"The Call" does stumble a bit toward the end once the conversation between the hive and the kidnap victim in the trunk of the car ends, but it is still a movie worth seeing. Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin make a formidable team, and it is easy to root for these two as they try to save themselves-Breslin as she tries to break free of the villain and Berry as she tries to redeem herself from the victim she lost several years earlier.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars