The idea behind the Brad Anderson-directed film The Call starring Halle Berry is that it is based around a 911 call where the phone operator, Jordan Turner (Berry), becomes more invested in a particular phone call than might be considered appropriate, and as such a story is born.
The film follows Jordan’s role as an operator who makes a critical mistake during one of her calls that results in the murder of a teenage girl (Evie Thompson) by a home intruder. From there, we see her internally dealing with her deadly mistake by leaving her post as a phone operator and instead becoming a trainer for new recruits. When she is faced with the task of taking over the phone from an inexperienced operator, she has to once again make the call of what to tell the caller, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), a teenage girl who has been kidnapped and is trapped in the trunk of a moving vehicle.
The scenes between Jordan and Casey are intense as we watch new ideas form on ways to find the car she’s in, identify the kidnapper (Michael Ukland) and ultimately save her from the same fate as Jordan’s last caller. The movie gets intense as the viewer is placed in the very real scenario of being a driver on a freeway and having a scene like this take place before us. Where the storyline may falter in depth with sometimes hokey dialogue and exchanges, it makes it up in the execution inside the trunk with Casey and outside the car looking in.
The storyline does have its faults as it tries to dance the fine line between focusing on Berry’s character as she makes up for her mistake during her last 911 phone call while also focusing on Casey’s attempts at escaping her kidnapper. The audience faces a conflict that leaves some uncertainty as to where to invest the most attention. Are we supposed to feel bad more for Jordan or Casey?
The Call is better than one would expect from a movie that is simply about a phone call. While other movies like Phonebooth and Buried have been novelty films with their specialty of having entire plots centred around a phone call, this film doesn’t restrict itself quite as much as it goes outside of those boundaries to bring in more from the outside. The Call is about a 911 phone call but it doesn’t get hung up on that.
Ultimately, this is a satisfying movie that provides enough intensity to hook the viewer in, at least until we are provided with enough evidence to know how it will end. However, despite its very conventional and sometimes predictable presentation, the film was made to satisfy the audience. That is, if the audience can let go of those conventional expectations.