By Wilson Morales
There’s come a time when the media has to give Halle Berry a break, or rather, better scripts. Since she won the Oscar over a decade ago for Monster’s Ball, and becoming the first African American to win the Best Actress award, the media has been looking for her to be a trailblazer for others to follow. Outside of the supporting roles she’s had in blockbuster films such as the James Bond film, ‘Die Another Day,’ and the first installment X-Men film series, where she played Storm on three occasions, her leading roles haven’t garnered much fanfare. One can have the pick of the liter from Gothika to Catwoman to the not-yet-released Frankie and Alice and the straight-to-DVD Dark Tide and say that neither film had enough pluses to warrant a favorable reaction.
Now comes her latest vehicle, the violent thriller film, The Call; and what could have been an effective solid B film, ended up being ridiculous by the time we get to the third act.
Berry plays Jordan, a veteran Los Angeles Police Department’s 911 emergency call operator who’s traumatized by the death of a teenage girl who called on her line. While mistakes are made on the job, Jordan takes this one to heart and resigns from taking calls to become an instructor at the job, known as The Hive (the center for dozens of operators). Months later, when teaching new employees how to handle distressed calls, she’s put back on the spot when helping another co-worker leads to a call from a kidnapped victim.
When Casey (played by Abigail Breslin)’s friend leaves her at the mall, and she’s left to go home alone, she’s kidnapped by some lunatic and thrown in the trunk of his car. Using her friend’s disposable cell phone, which can’t be traced, she calls in 911. With Jordan’s boss (Roma Maffia) telling her to take a breathe before she experiences a panic attack, Jordan composes herself as she tries to get Casey to divulge 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 (David Otunga), it’s a race against time as Casey’s tormentor starts unraveling as he realizes Casey has been busy being in the back of his car.
Directed by Brad Anderson (known for TV work on The Killing, The Wire, Fringe and Boardwalk Empire), he brings in a good beginning with the tension and establishing some plausible scenarios. The audience is kept at bay from guessing where this film is headed as the film shifts back and forth from Jordan’s Hive to Casey in the back of the car. Having Michael Imperioli interjected in the film at a crucial moment also adds to the intensity. But, as in other films where the writers fail to capitalize on how good things are going, the third act is like a house of cards and crumbles whatever amount of good effect the film had with audiences.
We’ve seen plenty of one-person-can-do-it-all films, but considering Berry’s character, it wasn’t necessary here. While Berry and Breslin are effective in their roles, the culprit for the film’s failure lies with the screenwriter, who couldn’t finish a solid suspenseful thriller with chilling effects.
The Call – My Name Is Jordan REV (Berry, Breslin, Lamia)
The Call clip – Re-Dial (Berry, Thompson)
The Call – Michael Foster´s House (Berry, Chestnut, Otunga, Machado)