The Call [Blu-Ray] Brad Anderson

The Call [Blu-Ray] Brad Anderson
7
Amidst the supplemental materials included with the Blu-Ray release of surprisingly effective high concept thriller The Call, we're given a tour of the main film set, referred to as "the hive." A large open room with high ceilings to minimize sound interference, "the hive" is ostensibly a high tech call center for 911 operators. When it's introduced in the film, the buzzing of conversation and energy distracts from an obvious casting decision: these people working through the night, talking to citizens during times of emergency and ensuring their needs are looked after are all visible and non-visible minorities. In the middle of it all is Jordan Turner (Halle Berry), an experienced operator in a relationship with police officer Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut). Despite demonstrating ease and confidence during a handful of calls, she panics in the midst of a breaking and entering call from a teen girl in trouble, calling her back when the call is disconnected, which alerts the intruder to the girl's whereabouts and contributes specifically to her death. Jordan is devastated and turns to training operators as a mode of coping. This obvious set-up doesn't go much further than expected: Jordan is eventually put in the position of having to take an escalated call with Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), a kidnapped teen girl being held in a trunk. Her character arc doesn't evolve much beyond retaliation — she's a Capricorn and is therefore a "fighter" — and taking back her power from a white, male oppressor (Michael Eklund) preying upon young girls and acting out his sick psychological imbalances. Although the plot is ludicrous, as are the many unlikely situations abounding between the protracted conversation between Jordan and Casey, the action and intensity never let up long enough for it to matter. Both actresses sell the panic and urgency of the situation, with key observations and tactics making the police search for the car a bit of a cat-and-mouse mind game. Casey's disposable cell is untraceable, leaving Jordan to come up with creative solutions to help get her out of the situation, such as pouring paint onto the highway from the trunk and trying to observe landmarks to pinpoint her location. Anderson's rapid cut editing and claustrophobic use of close-ups work to establish a consistently aggressive pace, which makes situations that might otherwise be obvious — nearby drivers or gas attendants intervening at inopportune moments — shocking and jarring. There's also a tendency towards unflinching violence that adds an element of danger to the situation, leading us to believe that Casey could actually wind up dead, which typically isn't present in these types of films. It all eventually devolves into an overly pat resolution that strains credulity, but while the excitement lasts, this bit of "take back the night" action is extremely entertaining. Other supplements on the Blu-Ray include an alternate ending, a commentary track and a "making of" that are mostly publicity-based fluff, which isn't much of a surprise in a movie that has so little to discuss. (Sony)