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Review

‘The Call’ has potential, yet fails to hold central focus

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March 21, 2013

Over the years Hallie Berry has given us some good performances. She became the first African American actress to win an Oscar in her performance in “Monster’s Ball” over a decade ago. She has also been in big blockbuster films such as “Die Another Day” and the first installment of the “X-Men” series.

However, she has been in pretty forgettable films like “Catwoman” and “Gothika,” and now she stars in “The Call.”

A violent thriller, “The Call” is a film that could have been an effective ‘B’ film, but toward the end it took a turn for the worst.

Berry plays Jordan, a veteran Los Angeles Police Department 911 emergency call operator. During a routine call, she becomes traumatized by the death of a teenage girl. Jordan later makes some mistakes, forcing her to resign from taking calls.

However, she becomes an instructor, teaching new employees how to handle emergency calls. Months after her traumatic experience, she is thrown back into the fire when Jordan is forced to help another co-worker with a call from a kidnapped victim.

Jordan helps Casey, played by Abigail Breslin, who was left at the mall by a friend. Casey is forced to go home by herself. However, she gets kidnapped by some lunatic and thrown in the trunk of his car. While Casey is in the trunk of the car, she calls 911 but can’t be traced because she’s using a disposable phone given to her by her friend.

Jordan is on the task of taking the call. Jordan’s boss, played by Roma Maffia, talks to her so Jordan does not experience another panic attack.

However, Jordan is able to compose herself and tries to help Casey to get any information that may lead her to safety. With the help of Jordan’s cop boyfriend, played by Morris Chestnut searching the city with his partner, played by David Otunga, it’s a race against time to save Casey.

Directed by Brad Anderson, known for some work on TV shows such as “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire,” he delivers a good beginning with tension and establishing plausible scenarios. With the film shifting between Jordan and Casey, the audience is left guessing where the film is headed. However, the film fails to capitalize on how good things are going. The film starts to fall apart at about the third act in the film where with whatever amount of good effect the movie had with audiences.

The only thing I took away from the film was Breslin’s performance. We are used to seeing her as a child in “Signs” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” but seeing her in a more mature role was a nice touch. Though the film has its shortcomings, Breslin had a nice performance playing as a panicked young girl.

There have been plenty of films like this in the past, but I don’t think Berry’s character was really necessary here. I do think for the most part, both Berry and Breslin are effective in their roles. However, the fault of the film lies with the screenwriter where the writer didn’t deliver an overall solid suspenseful thriller with chilling effects.

Adam Tilson is a student at UW-River Falls who is originally from Neillsville, Wis. He loves playing video games, watching movies -- especially classics, fishing in the summer and trying new activities.