Monday, March 18, 2013

movie review: The Call (2013)


(reviews may contain spoilers for those that have never seen the film or are unfamiliar with the characters.)

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THE CALL (2013)

Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator in the nerve center of a Los Angeles area emergency Call Center. She's on top of her game, handling call after call with coolness and ease. That is, until a momentary lapse of judgment causes a serious situation to go from very bad to even worse.

Shaken to her very core, she leaves the hectic front lines for the comfortable position of instructor. This wouldn't last.

While showing a new group of recruits around, she's drawn back into the line of fire when one of her previous recruits becomes flustered by a call, which seems remarkably similar to her very last call.

From this point forward we're taken on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs as police try and track down the latest kidnap victim.

Overall, the film kept me watching for its short 96 minutes, and I would have been happy to have seen the cat and mouse action stretch the movie out. Unfortunately, all stories have an ending, and it's in the ending where this film stumbles a bit.

Not only did the resolution seem unbelievable, and somewhat slapped together, the acting simply fell flat in the last scene.

All through the film the kidnap victim was frazzled and freaked out. Then, she somehow gains a backbone, which I found hard to swallow.

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Berry gets top billing, and I'm sure people will be flocking to the theaters because this is being portrayed as another action movie for her. While she is definitely the biggest name on the screen, her character is just one part of the ensemble, and I'm not sure warrants the marque treatment she's getting.

When she is on screen, she plays the emotional scenes with great verve, capturing your attention, not only with her dialog, but also with the emotion in her eyes.

Sorry guys, but don't go to this film expecting to see her in slinky ultra-tight leather pants, or an orange one piece swim suit. She's matured enough in her roles, so she could trade that in for a comfy pair of blue jeans and a polo shirt.

This film's eye candy is Abigail Breslin, who plays kidnap victim Casey Welson. Breslin has come a long way since starting her career as Mel Gibson's young daughter in Signs (2002), or even more recently, as Emma Stone's younger sister in Zombieland (2009).

Happily, the film doesn't try to rely on Breslin's good looks, and she generally does a decent job as the naive teenager turned kidnap victim.

Our psycho du jour is Michael Foster (Michael Eklund). We never really get a firm grasp on why he is doing what he does. There's a quick montage of shots which makes an implication. But, the viewer is left to fully interpret them. Perhaps the creators felt it wasn't necessary since Foster's violence is what people will mostly take away from the theater.

At the helm was Brad Anderson, probably better known as a director on the small screen (Fringe, Boardwalk Empire).

While keeping us engrossed with the near constant action, he went too far with some of the violence and gore. One particular scene could have been stopped just before the blood started flowing, and it would have been just as effective.

Keeping pace with the action on the screen was a snappy soundtrack penned by Academy Award winning composer John Debney.

One other thing comes to mind. Perhaps the cell phone network of towers is more complete in Southern California, but it's sure not good enough to get the constant Five Bar signal strength seen nearly throughout the entire film.

Anyone who is plagued with the notoriously bad cell phone coverage we experience here in Albany, should be astounded by constant connection which facilitates much of the dialog.

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The R rating is justifiably earned.

If you have an aversion to violence, gore and blood, or any combination thereof, do yourself a favor and skip this one.

It's not just one scene, and then you're safe. There are multiple scenes that could easily give people nightmares for days to come if they're bothered by that type of action.

RATED: 5.5 out of 10 STARS

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Nearby theaters currently showing The Call are the Shattuck Cinemas, UA Emery Bay 10 and Century 16 Hilltop.

A full listing of show times and locations can be found at Fandango.

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