The Call Review
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If you think that your job is stressful, take a few minutes to consider the day-to-day routine of the 911 operator: trying to stay calm while tackling one critical situation after another. It’s clearly a tough job—and an important one, too. So it’s a shame that the profession gets such a laughable send-up in The Call.

Halle Berry stars as Jordan Turner, a dedicated emergency operator who begins to question her chosen profession after a stupid mistake results in a young girl’s death. Six months later, she’s stepped away from the phones to train incoming operators. But when a rookie operator takes a call that she can’t handle, Jordan steps in to help.

The call comes from Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), a frantic teen who’s calling from the trunk of her kidnapper’s car. As everyone around her scrambles to find Casey and bring her home safely, Jordan works to keep the girl calm and level-headed, all the time remembering a similar call that didn’t end well—and trying to atone for the mistakes in her past.

The beginning of The Call is actually quite fascinating. For a while, in fact, the film’s greatest offense is its overdone melodrama. The story follows Jordan through each critical stage of the call, as she tries to keep Casey calm while talking her through the steps that will help to identify her location and point the police in the right direction. In the process, it offers a tense and eye-opening look at the daily grind of a profession that clearly doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves.

It isn’t long, however, before the story gets dragged into a downward spiral of absurdity. Some moments are so completely implausible that they’re laugh-out-loud funny—and the tension is eventually replaced by a whole lot of screaming. Clichés abound as characters start doing exactly the opposite of what any rational human being would do.

Meanwhile, the more we see of the kidnapper, the more ridiculous he becomes. Instead of a cool, calculating criminal, he comes off as a dim-witted nutcase who doesn’t seem smart enough to operate a moving vehicle—much less plan a kidnapping. And when the police identify the kidnapper and show up at his home, his wife is totally stunned that he’d do anything out of the ordinary, despite the fact that his house is filled with some pretty obvious clues of mental instability.

While The Call originally seems to promise smart suspense, it delivers little more than clichés, predictability, and an overabundance of unintentional humor. So feel free to let this one go straight to voicemail.

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