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Movie review: 'The Call' thrills, then goes a bit crazy
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For the first hour, "The Call" is an effectively heart-stopping thriller. Unfortunately, a side effect of a stopped heart is that blood fails to reach the brain — which may explain why the movie goes ridiculously stupid in the finale.

Halle Berry stars as Jordan, a Los Angeles 911 dispatcher haunted by a mistake that cost a girl her life. The girl (Evie Louise Thompson) called to report an intruder in her house, but the call was disconnected — and when Jordan called back, the intruder heard it and found the girl. Days later, the girl's body was found, and Jordan's confidence was shattered.

The movie flashes forward six months, with Jordan as a trainer in L.A.'s 911 center. One day, one of Jordan's new recruits can't handle it when another teen, Casey (Abigail Breslin), calls from the trunk of a car to report she, too, is being abducted. Jordan puts on the headset, and talks Casey through the ordeal while frantically getting the police — including her boyfriend, Paul (Morris Chestnut) — to follow the trail of bodies left behind by the kidnapper (Michael Eklund).

Director Brad Anderson — whose resume includes such crackerjack indie thrillers as "Transsiberian," "The Machinist" and "Session 9" — creates some genuine tension in the early going, as the killer's freeway drama is intercut with tight close-ups that capture Casey's fear and Jordan's concern. Berry is at her best here, as Jordan keeps her qualms barely under wraps, and Breslin shows signs that she may transition well toward adult roles. (There's also a brief but welcome appearance by "The Sopranos'" Michael Imperioli.)

But then the wheels fall off, as Richard D'Ovidio's screenplay dives head-first into overly predictable psycho-killer territory — followed by a "twist" ending that's downright laughable. But even with a faltering finale, "The Call" is a worthy nail-biter that will engage you in the moment.

movies@sltrib.com

Twitter: @moviecricket

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanpmeans

HHH

'The Call'

Halle Berry plays a 911 operator trying to save a kidnapped teen in this tight thriller, which goes off the rails in the final half-hour.

Where • Theaters everywhere.

When • Now open.

Rating • R for violence, disturbing content and some language,

Running time • 95 minutes.

Review • Suspense ratchets up before an implausible finish.
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