Tag Archives: The Call

Tenacious M


by Hope Madden

Let me admit this from the start – I may have liked Kidnap better than I should have. Why? Well, I saw it immediately after The Dark Tower, and it is Citizen Kane compared to that festering pile.

In this film, Haley Berry plays Liam Neeson. It’s her second time in the role, actually.

Back in ’08, Neeson – with help from the pen of Luc Besson – revolutionized film with the (wildly over-appreciated) genre flick Taken. Mid-budget “I have a particular set of skills” thrillers have littered the cinematic landscape since, wreaking righteous vengeance and prolonging the careers of middle aged actors everywhere.

In 2013, Berry made The Call, which was not a bad B-movie thriller and her first turn as Liam Neeson. Kidnap sees the Oscar winner playing a loving mother whose 6-year-old (a very sweet Sage Correa) is nabbed from a busy park. Mom sees the napper shoving her son into a car, she jumps in her minivan and the pursuit begins.

The film amounts to a 90-minute car chase with one unreasonably attractive mom behind the wheel. Several of the action sequences are interesting and flashy (for a film with this level of budget – do not go into this hoping for Fast and the Furious: Minivans).

Writer Knate Lee can’t really justify the lack of cell phone or police presence, but he does what he can. Meanwhile, director Luis Prieto ably assembles car chases and panicked driver close ups, then competently shifts tone for a final act that toes the line between thriller and horror.

There’s nothing exceptional about Kidnap. Not one thing. You’ll forget it existed as quickly as you forgot The Call was ever made. But for a getting-the-phone-bill-paid flick, it’s not too bad.




Call Me Pleasantly Surprised

by George Wolf


Let’s be honest, The Call is a pretty weak movie title. And, if you’ve seen the film’s preview trailer, odds are that didn’t knock you out either.

So, surprise! The movie itself is pretty engaging.

Halle Berry, sporting a bad hairdo to make her look more “average”, plays L.A. 911 operator Jordan Turner. While on the line with a young girl who is trying to avoid a kidnapper, Jordan has a slight lapse in judgment that ends up having tragic consequences.

Months later, Jordan is handed a call from Casey, (Abigail Breslin) another young victim who has managed to call 911 from the trunk of her kidnapper’s car.  Finding that they are both Capricorns, Jordan tells Casey that, as born “fighters,” they are going to help each other fight back against the attacker.

When The Call succeeds, it is mainly a result of good directing trumping bad writing. Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian) has a solid grasp on the action, often filming in extreme, shaky closeup to aid the feel of disorientation. When passing motorists or helpful gas station attendants try to come to Casey’s aid, Anderson pulls back, letting events unfold with proper tension.

Too often, though, these effective segments are interrupted by momentum-killing scenes full of stilted, implausible dialogue, such as when Jordan is training new employees on the 911 system. After a speech that overly educates the audience, Jordan is asked why she isn’t actually taking the calls anymore. Cue dramatic flashback…just before she’s called back into action!

As Casey’s situation grows more desperate, The Call wanders into the horror neighborhood, and Anderson gets caught up giving too many homages to one particular horror classic. To avoid spoilers, I won’t mention the film, but if you’re a horror fan, there’s little question you’ll miss the references.

Berry, as is the case with too many Oscar winners, has had trouble following her Monster’s Ball win in 2001 with solid roles in good films. The Call, while certainly not award-worthy, is a well-paced and effective crowd-pleaser that should generate enough positive word-of-mouth to make it a hit.

3 stars (out of 5)