LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- THV 11 Film Critic Jonathan Nettles on Halle Berry's new film, The Call.
I like my thrillers simple and thin. Okay, I like them complicated too so let me rephrase and explain..."I like thrillers but some of the best ones have simple storylines." The Call is a pretty simple concept. A 911 operator gets call from girl who has been kidnapped by a serial killer and has been stuffed into the trunk of his car.The911 operator tries to help girl escape. Need some more info?
Halle Berry, who has experienced a slump in her box office draw since winning an Academy Award for Monster's Ball, plays veteran 911 operator Jordan who takes a call from a teenage girl in a panic that an intruder is in her home. As Jordan tries to guide the girl to safety before police arrive she makes a critical mistake that endangers the girl further. If you've seen the trailer, you know it doesn't go well and when the intruder gets on the line and Jordan pleads with him not to hurt the girl he leaves her with the haunting phrase "it's already done" before the call is disconnected.
Six months later, Jordan is still traumatized by the event and is now a trainer for new 911 operators. As she is the training process she takes over a call from one of her rookies. This call is from Casey, another panicking teenage girl, this one played by Abigail Breslin, who has been kidnapped and is calling from the trunk of her captor's car. The phone Casey uses is a prepaid phone so it doesn't have the conveniences of a GPS tracker to locate it easily (in reality they can be traced. Movies love to take creative liberties with technology)so Jordan works with Casey in several attempts to get her and the vehicle she's in noticed as she drives down a Los Angeles freeway.
The Call is a tight thriller with very little downtime between suspenseful moments. It did a good job of drawing the audience in, there were several moments where I (and the audience around me) were giving advice to the characters in the movie and the few times when characters took that advice the bad guy was wise to it and the results of that action did not go well. It was well-paced throughout its 95 minute runtime which is a good length for a concept like this, although it did fall away from logic, as most thrillers of this type do, during the final act and it also became predictable where you would expect it to be, another side effect of most thrillers.
If you like thrillers and a few good scares then you'll like this movie. It's not going to be a classic but it'll make for a good movie night. Seems like it's been a long time since we've had a film this suspenseful and this easy to watch but keep in mind, it's rated "R".
Also new this week, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone stars Stave Carell and Steve Buscemi as superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton who have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years but they're facing cutthroat competition from street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following grows with each outrageous stunt. The only way that Burt and Anton can save their act and return to their glory is if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic on the first place. It's a PG-13 comedy from the writers of Horrible Bosses and Waiting, neither of which I would call family friendly.