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Thu March 21, 2013
Movie Review: The Call
The Call does, as accused, turn in the end from a first-rate police procedural about how the 911 emergency system operates into a story of first-person heroics by Halle Berry.
But the change is not as total as some have made it seem, and the damage is not all that serious.
I think I understand why Berry decides, at the end, to leave her telephone connection and reliance on the police and go investigating on her own-- the clue as to where Abigail Breslin is being held is too faint and vague, and may not be there at all. And then she makes a mistake and loses her connection to the system under circumstances that make immediate action essential, and from there on, she has no choice.
But she never does anything superhuman, and if there is a switch in character at the very end, you can easily interpret things to escape it. And if you do accept it, you may not feel bad about it.
Meanwhile, there is a lot that satisfies in The Call.
For one thing, unless you draw the line at Berry's final sequence, nobody acts like an idiot. Breslin is locked into the trunk of a speeding car most of the time, but she has her telephone (one of the few mistakes kidnapper Michael Eklund makes), and she doesn't panic. Berry's instructions to her may just be standard procedure, but they make good sense and Breslin follows them to the letter. And, in the end, the two are formidable opponents Eklund can well wish he had never encountered.
The police are efficient and competent and determined, and not responsible for not having the final clue.
And The Call does not distract us with its subplots-- it does well by a system that, for once in a movie, works.