Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Procedural, but Effective
When we think of the word “procedural”, we normally think of over-the-air cop dramas, and for the most part, that’s correct. You don’t usually see this word defining many cable shows, premium shows, or even movies. It is used sometimes in film, but for the most part, you won’t see it because procedural is boring in film, but perfect for multiple episodes or even seasons of a TV show (see CSI). Does that mean it is always boring for film? Not at all, and in fact, procedural is just one of the many words that can be used to define The Call, and it is done magnificently, but not all movie critics would agree with that statement…to get an idea of everyone’s differing opinions, let’s talk about the plot.
Jordan (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator for the Los Angeles Police Department, and she knows what she is doing. Sure, she gets calls now and then that are a bit too dramatic for her tastes, but she trudges on. When she gets a distress call from a young girl that gets disconnected, Jordan doesn’t think things through and calls the victim back, giving her location away to the intruder, who ends up killing this victim, but Jordan hears the intruder’s voice. Six months later, the same intruder kidnaps Casey (Abigail Breslin), who also ends up managing to call 911. The call didn’t go straight to Jordan, but Jordan ends up intercepting the call, finding out that this was the same man as before. Throughout the movie, Jordan tries to talk Casey through necessary steps into helping the police find her location, but that may all change when Jordan decides to take matters into her own hands.
It’s pretty clear that one of the major goals of this film was to inform its audience about the stresses that 911 operators go through on a day-to-day basis. It’s really quite brilliant, because we as an audience are usually thrown right into the action, and we’ll be lucky to see if anyone even makes a single 911 call, but we never see what happens on the other end…that’s almost never seen…and it’s exciting! A huge majority of what goes on in this movie is by the books, very procedural, very realistic. At the same time it is tense, it is suspenseful, and it gets your heart racing just from watching this woman talk to a young girl in immediate danger, and transferring to the appropriate channels, and telling the girl specific things to do, that while it may endanger her life, also helps the police find her, and it all feels brilliant.
Most critics would even agree that up to this point, the movie feels fresh and genuine – a prime example of how thrillers should be without the use of typical Hollywood cheese. Their issues arise when it comes to stepping out of the realistic zone, and almost changing tones completely by having Halle Berry’s character essentially go rogue. By then, yes…Hollywood cheese is introduced and there’s no way around it. Movie critics all around would like you to think that this shift is monumentally bad, but it’s not. It’s not the best choice in the world, granted, but it doesn’t ruin anything, the movie is still very tense and suspenseful. Part of the reason as to why the movie is so thrilling is because of Michael Eklund’s performance of the killer.
There is a huge section of the movie where you, as the audience, just don’t know what he is up to or why he is doing what he is doing. You may have plenty of your own personal theories, but it is unlikely that you could accurately predict his character’s motives. They are deeply disturbing and he does an amazing job with his performance, as do all of the actors at play. Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin have proved their acting abilities long ago, and their skills continue to shine bright.
The Call has a lot of words that could be used to define it – satisfying, heart-racing, thrilling, tense, suspenseful, and yes, procedural. It does have its flaws, but it’s hard to find a perfect movie. Don’t listen to the other critics that would like to suggest that you would hate the movie, because I just don’t see that happening. It’s a fun movie, check it out!