Monday, June 10, 2013

Movie Review: The Call (2013) Dir. Brad Anderson

The Pelham 123 remake but with a kidnapped girl.

The Call (2013) Dir. Brad Anderson

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is an experienced 911 operator but when she makes an error in judgement and a call ends badly, Jordan is rattled and unsure if she can continue. But then teenager Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) is abducted in the back of a man's car and calls 911. And Jordan is the one called upon to use all of her experience, insights and quick thinking to help Casey escape, and not just to save Casey, but to make sure the man is brought to justice.

Thoughts: Brad Anderson is responsible for high quality recent thrillers The Machinist and Transsiberian as well as great work on The Wire, The Killing, Treme and Boardwalk Empire but after the giant misstep of 2011's Vanishing on 7th Street the best he could get for his next project was this WWE Studios production complete with a wrestler in the cast. It did not bode well and that's before I take in to consideration the fact that guaranteed quality repellent Halle Berry is the star.

If you want a popcorn thriller this is probably as good as it gets in 2013 thanks largely to the skill of Brad Anderson. There's a good concept at its heart, the 911 operator dealing with a call from a kidnapped girl, but when it goes beyond that basic idea it treads the line of absurdity far too readily.

The opening scenes were pretty much as expected, i.e. stupid and exposition filled and I was filled with regret at having gone against my initial instincts and seen this movie just because of the director.

The middle section surprised the hell out of me with its quality, although with Anderson at the helm it shouldn't have, the tension is skilfully built up to almost unbearable levels despite the best intentions of a dodgy screenplay.

But once it comes out of the other side it lost me once more with a final act that had no place in the kind of film we had just had set up for us. I appreciate that there are certain expectations from your lowest common denominator audience and that these are almost certainly met with the slasher horror that the film becomes but I just find these things stupid and unnecessary.

It certainly could have been worse but I don't think Brad Anderson disgraced himself too much by taking on this project. It was so not awful that I didn't even want to punch Halle Berry in the face. I'm actually astounded that it won't even trouble my "Worst of 2013" list.

Any thoughts on Halle Berry? Is there any way back for Brad Anderson? Join the discussion in the comments, on Letterboxd or tweet @bbbgtoby


  1. Honestly could have been a lot worse like I had expected it to be, but thankfully it was fun for what it was and that was about it. Good review.

    1. Hey thanks Dan, I love that we both expected it to be awful and still watched it anyway.

  2. Yeah, this doesn't look very good, but I might rent it. Halle Berry needs something to revitalize her career. Cloud Atlas (unfortunately) wasn't it, and this doesn't seem to be either.

    1. I dunno, I don't think she deserves to revive her career ;)
      If you do bother seeing it I'm sure you'll get something from it, the tension in the middle section really is something.