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Call, The


Stars: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli, Roma Maffia, Evie Louise Thompson, David Otunga

Director: Brad Anderson

A cracking thriller for the first hour or more, this gets increasingly silly towards the end, and completely falls apart in a final scene that had the preview audience in fits. Shame.

Berry stars as Jordan, an experienced operator at a 911 emergency call centre, still haunted by the death of a kidnap victim (Thompson) she had tried to help. Now it's happening again. Teenage Casey (all-grown-up former child star Breslin) is taken in a car park by a man (Eklund) who turns out to be the same predator from Jordan's original case.

One of the centre's operators' remarks to a caller at the beginning - 'You shot your wife?!' - raises the film's first giggle, but it's the last in quite a while, as the movie develops into a super-tense piece focussing on the dialogue between Casey, trapped in the boot of a car but with her cellphone in operation, and Jordan, who desperately tries to pinpoint the girl's location, all the while offering such advice as smashing out the kidnap car's tail-light and pouring a (convenient) can of paint through it.

Alas, this only leads to the death of an observant motorist, but the suspense is still superbly maintained until the director mistakenly moves away from the call centre and sends Jordan on a mission of revenge. Perhaps this might have worked a tad better if Jordan had been liaising with a policewoman up to the final confrontation. A pity, since this could - and for an infuriating time is - a classic in Hitchcockian style.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by FotoKem.
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 14 Sep 2013