A few weeks ago, I watched The Call with a few friends of mine on a Friday night. I’d heard good things about the movie and never got the chance to see it in theaters. It recently became available at Redbox and I thought I’d give it a shot. Little did I know I would be spending the next hour and a half with goosebumps on my arms, praying for the safety of a fictional teenage girl.
For those of you who don’t know, The Call follows Jordan (Halle Berry), a 911 dispatcher, and Casey (Abigail Breslin), a 16-year-old girl who has been kidnapped at the parking garage of a local mall. Using a pre-paid cell phone, Casey makes a 911 call from the trunk of her captor’s car. On the other end of the line, while unable to track her, Jordan attempts to figure out where she is and aid her in escaping.
We see thrillers like this all the time from the captive’s point of view. What sets The Call apart from the rest of these is that it shows us what it’s like being on the other end of a 911 call. Jordan is a very real and down-to-earth character that’s easy to connect with. It’s clear that she is overly invested in her work. She puts Casey’s life in her hands and blames herself for any problems that arise during Casey’s attempted escape.
The dialogue between the two is very gripping and may possibly be the best part of the film. Abigail Breslin gives a pretty great performance as a frightened teenage girl while Halle Berry’s character tries to keep her cool herself as she attempts to keep Casey calm. Throughout the movie, Jordan encourages Casey and tries to get her to muster up enough bravery to do things she’d be too afraid to do on her own, such as removing the taillight of her captor’s car, or pulling a wallet out of a dead man’s pocket to identify him.
Even though the two aren’t face to face, the connection between them is very real. Both the characters themselves are very real. Abigail Breslin accurately portrays a typical teenage girl who becomes very scared very fast in the face of possible death, while Halle Berry accurately portrays a typical woman working as a 911 dispatcher. She doesn’t have any super powers. She’s not some great action hero or someone who takes the law into her own hands. She’s a normal person doing the best she can to save this girl. What makes the movie so great is how grounded these characters are.
That is, until the end of the film. Be warned. There are spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. If I was told about halfway through the film that it would end the way it did, I’m not sure I would finish it. Well, I probably would finish it because I was so wrapped up in it, but that’s beside the point.
The realness of the characters and their situation at hand is shattered instantly when Jordan decides to go into the field to save Casey. When her captor finds Casey’s cell phone, the call is disconnected. At this point in the film, I was wondering how it was going to end. After building up the relationship between Jordan and Casey, it would surely be disappointing to have someone else besides Jordan go in to save her. However, the way it ended is probably even more unsatisfying than doing that.
After discovering where Casey was taken, Jordan takes matters into her own hands by tracking her down and saving her from her captor. The police was never notified of Casey’s whereabouts or the fact that Jordan was going after her. The two eventually knock the captor unconscious and leave him in an abandoned cabin to die. The film ends right there.
This ending is disappointing on so many levels. I was first unsatisfied because after all the buildup, it ends just like that. There’s no sort of epilogue scene or any sort of closure. We don’t get to see Casey reuniting with her parents or even thanking Jordan for all her help throughout the ordeal. We don’t see the two of them bonding after seeing each other face to face for the first time. It ends just like that.
On another note, leaving the captor there to die doesn’t offer closure either. It may seem like justice served cold, but no one else gets anything from that. In the final scenes, a back-story of the antagonist is given to us through a series of pictures and severed scalps found in his cabin. This is disappointing in addition to everything else because throughout the rest of the movie, the character is seen as an evil captor and nothing more. No other human trait is really given to him. The film is more about the situation at hand rather than the twisted needs of a psychopathic man. Why introduce this at the very end of the film when it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie?
And finally, like stated previously, the realness of Halle Berry’s character is gone when she decides to go out to save Casey. While the audience may be happy that the two are united at last, it really is not a fitting end to the movie. Berry should leave her superhero persona for the X-Men films.
Aside from the horrible ending, I would recommend The Call. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in a long time that literally had me gripping my seat. I can only imagine what it was like viewing it in theaters. While I’d still like some sort of decent closure after watching this film, I’m not quite sure I’ll get it. With talks of a possible sequel in the works, one can only hope that it’s somehow magically better than the original. Or, after balking at the thought of Halle Berry’s grounded 911 dispatcher character going in the field to rescue another captive teen, perhaps we should hope that there’s no sequel altogether.