When the words “WWE Films” come across the screen before a movie, you’re not really sure what to expect. Which wrestling star will they be trying to turn into actor this time? Well, the answer for The Call is an unusual one, none of them.
Rather, it seems the WWE is just trying to make actual films now and hiring (surprise!) actual actors to be in them. Here, they’ve recruited Oscar-winner Halle Berry (and maker of questionable career decisions since) to play the lead in their thriller.
In it, Berry is Jordan, a 911 call operator whose jobs are only second in stress to the officers who show up to the scenes of accidents and crimes they hear about over the phone. Jordan is shaken when she receives a call from a girl attempting to fend off a home intruder. The phone accidentally disconnects, but when Jordan redials, the ring gives away the girl’s position. Cut to a day later when the police are digging up her naked body in a nearby field.
Not this girl, but all white girls look the same.
The event haunts Jordan and months later she’s now an instructor, training the next generation of operators instead of being one herself. That changes when a newbie receives a call from a girl who has been abducted and is currently in the trunk of a moving car. Jordan steps in and soon figures out that it’s the same perp who murdered the previous girl. Revengeance!
The girl is Casey, played by Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin. The poor girl likely couldn’t talk for weeks after shooting the film, as 90% of her dialogue is hysterical screaming and sobbing from the trunk. Jordan talks her through all manner of ways to help the police find her, including kicking out the car’s taillight and spilling conveniently located paint from the resulting hole.
The Call isn’t the first thriller to use a cell phone as a central plot device. There’s Buried, the Ryan Reynolds film that has him trapped in a coffin with only a phone to direct others to his unknown location. There’s also Cellular, which starred Chris Evans before he suited up for either the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. I hated Buried, but I think Cellular was a better fashioned action film than The Call here since the hero is actually allowed to stretch his legs for more than the last ten minutes of the movie.
But The Call is undeniably tense, and it goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting as it slowly explains the motive of the man doing all the girl snatching and killing. It veers into Silence of the Lambs territory with just a touch of Saw, and the final quarter of the movie is much darker and creepier than the flashy, action packed first half.
It’s decent film, and it’s got a good director at the helm. Brad Anderson was responsible for The Machinist and Session 9 in addition to directing a whole bunch of TV episodes from The Killing to Fringe. He knows what he’s doing, and it shows.
That said, the film isn’t particularly memorable. It ends up feeling somewhat generic by the end, and overshadowed by similar movies in the genre. It might make a few teenage girls worried about hanging out at the mall by themselves, but past that, it’s really nothing that stays with you.
3 out of 5 stars