movie film review | chris tookey


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  Call  Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
5.00 /10
Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut
Full Cast >

Directed by: Brad Anderson
Written by: Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio, Jon Bogenkamp

Released: 2013
Genre: CRIME
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 94

Hang up.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The Call begins as a moderately effective thriller, showing us a side of the LA police we haven’t seen before. Then it gets dumb. Then it gets much dumber. By the end, the film-makers have quite clearly taken leave of their senses.

The first tip-off that The Call may not make a lot of sense is that it has been made by World Wrestling Entertainment, and it’s not a wrestling movie.

The second is that it stars the far from fastidious Halle Berry (pictured), who has been unable to stop making terrible choices since winning an Oscar eleven years ago for Monsters’ Ball. Remember her in Catwoman? Movie 43? Cloud Atlas? She’s every bit as clueless here.

The first half-hour takes us inside a Los Angeles Police Department call centre, a place manned entirely, it would seem, by idiots. Our heroine, played by Ms Berry, is rung up by a teenage girl who’s hiding from a prowler. Everything goes swimmingly, until the phone connection is lost. So what does Halle do? Ring the girl up, which reveals to the prowler that the teenager is hiding under the bed. Doh!

Six months later, since this isn’t a comic-strip movie, the girl is still dead as a result of Halle’s stupidity. Amazingly, Halle has been rewarded with promotion. She now instructs trainee call operators, presumably on the time-honoured premise that those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

Then an even dimmer, more panicky operator gets a call from another frightened teenager (Abigail Breslin), who’s been captured by a serial-killer (Michael Eklund) and imprisoned in a car boot. Halle takes over and gives surprisingly good, calm advice on how the girl can enable the authorities to track her down.

This is the best part of the movie and even seems properly researched, though it stretches credulity that the kidnapper doesn’t check to see if a teenage girl victim has a mobile phone. As events unfold, it’s clear that this man is the antidote to Hannibal Lecter: he’s the world’s dumbest serial-killer. It’s a wonder he wasn’t caught, committing his first crime.

It’s even more beyond belief that the police can’t find a car with a broken tail-light, a girl waving her arm at following cars and white paint dripping on the road and making a trail. They even know what freeway the car is on, and have a detailed description of it. But still they are baffled.

When the call ends and the police are bewildered as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts (naturally, they fail to make a thorough search of where they‘re pretty sure he’s hiding), Halle does a spot of sleuthing on her own, morphs into Nancy Drew and easily discovers his lair, which the police might have done too, if any of them had seen The Lovely Bones.

And what does she do then? Call for back-up? Ring her hunky cop boyfriend? No, she turns vigilante, for no obvious reason. And what does she do when she’s knocked down the kidnapper? Why, she turns her back on him, of course.

Director Brad Anderson adds sleaziness to the film’s other sins by ensuring that 17 year-old Breslin spends the last part of the movie in a bra. He also takes much too keen an interest in her bosom.

Just as you think the film can’t get any cheesier, the film-makers decide – without the slightest amount of foreshadowing - to turn the whole thing into an I Spit On Your Grave-style feminist revenge fantasy.

A film that started out as a tense little thriller has completed its transformation into a sleazy, nonsensical, unintentionally hilarious disaster. Hooray for Hollywood.

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