There are a lot of good things going for Brad Anderson's suspenseful film, 'The Call.' The movie doesn't take overtly long looks into a character's troubled past, or attempt to throw twists and turns at you at every corner. Instead, this is a straight-forward, high-anxiety thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat with its great pacing, amazing acting, and good direction. That is... right up until the final minutes of the film, where things take a bizarre and idiotic turn that makes no sense whatsoever. This climatic moment almost completely ruins the entire film. I'm not quite sure what Anderson ('The Machinist') was trying to tell us here with his final act, but it was a huge mis-step.
The story centers on a well-trained veteran 911 operator, Jordan Turner (Halle Berry), who receives a call from a young girl who informs her that an intruder is in her house. Jordan calmly and effectively leads the girl to a good hiding place that evades her captor. When the call goes immediately silent, Jordan calls back, leading the intruder to the location of his victim, to which he picks up the phone and says, "It's already done." A few days later, Jordan sees a news report that shows the body of the young girl she failed to save.
Jordan is emotionally distraught from this and can no longer handle live calls and resumes a job of training new 911 operators. Six months go by and with the help of her police officer boyfriend, Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut), she seems to be getting emotionally better. However, when the call-center receives a distressing call from teenage girl, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), saying she is kidnapped and in the trunk of someone's car, Jordan relieves the operator and takes over.
Jordan walks Casey through her nightmare of being trapped in a the trunk of a car by telling her how to signal other drivers and people on the road and to describe her surroundings so that the police can find her. To her dismay, the phone Casey is using is a pre-paid mobile phone and cannot be easily traced, which lets her kidnapper be one step ahead of everybody. As Jordan learns more about this call and case, she decides to take matters into her own hands and try and save Casey any way that she can.
The pacing of the film is fantastic. We are literally on a ride in a trunk and in the confines of a call-center for much of the movie, giving us an extremely claustrophobic viewing experience. There are plenty of very suspenseful moments to make your hands sweat as you root for the good guys and bad mouth the villains, which keeps the flow fast and steady. Things also get pretty gritty, especially towards the end, which was unexpected, but satisfying. Director Brad Anderson (editor's note: My former co-worker at R.J. Julia Booksellers!) did a great job putting us in the center of this horrific situation, as we see Jordan have to make quick and intelligent decisions to keep her alive.
Berry and Breslin turn in wonderful work here. Berry shows us a great character who can calmly walk us through any situation but instill a sense of panic in her face expression that can leave lasting impressions. And Breslin does an amazing job of showing just how terrifying it would be to be kidnapped and locked in a trunk. Chestnut turns in a solid performance as well as Michael Eklund, who plays the kidnapper to a frighteningly effective degree. Michael Imperioli, Jose Zuniga, and Roma Maffia make cameo appearances.
'The Call' is a solid film in the thriller category. It's acting, pace, script, and direction are all top notch, that is until the end. The final minutes are so horrendous and completely contradict everything else in the movie, that it might not garner a second viewing. But if you can get past that, this may be worth a look.
'The Call' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film was shot digitally and looks amazing. The detail is crisp and sharp, even in the backgrounds. Closeups provide fine detail as we can see wrinkles in actors' faces, blemishes, and individual hair follicles. The colors are all well-saturated and seem to pop off the screen, especially during the mall scenes.
Skin tones are always natural and smooth, providing a very realistic image. The black levels run deep and inky some of the time here, but at other times are a bit brighter than they should be, which delivers an off-putting image. Other than that problem, this video presentation is free of compression issues and banding.
This release comes with a demo-worthy lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, with no evidence of cracks or hissing at any point. The surrounds get a workout here too. From the sounds of the helicopters flying over head, to the cars passing each other on the highway, to the call center calls and voices that engulfs your screening room, it all sounds authentic and real.
The score provides a lot of tension and emotion in each scene, and never drowns out dialogue or the sound effects. The dynamic range here is flawless, with great highs and lows that pack a good punch. The ambient noises sound great coming from the surrounds here as well and happen quite often. All of the noises sound legitimate and real, making this one hell of an audio presentation.
'The Call' is a solid film that works on almost every level. Berry and Breslin turn in amazing performances and the suspense is high throughout the entire film. If it wasn't for those final moments in the movie, this would have been a perfect film. That being said, the movie is still good, with a great audio and video presentation, along with some decent extras. Despite the ending almost ruining the entire film, this is worth a look.