Friday, March 15, 2013

The Call [2013]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O) SunTimes (2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
SunTimes (I. Vishnevetsky) review
AV Club (S. Tobias) review

Even before the opening credits finished rolling for the thriller, The Call [2013] (directed by Brad Anderson, screenplay by Richard D'Ovidio, story by Richard D'Ovidio, Nicole D'Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp), I was certain that I'd been presented with a job (that of serving as a 911 dispatcher) that while ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for the smooth operation of our society today is one that I could never, ever be able to do.  Much of the job is repetitious ("You've reached 911, what's your emergency ...?") and yet every so often, one would get a call where ANY mistake could leave someone dead.

Such then was the life of Jordan Turner (played by Halle Berry) working as a 911 dispatcher in "The Hive," the command center for Los Angeles' Emergency Services.  During an evening of relatively "normal emergencies" and even dealing with an inevitable "regular caller" who calls 911 every so often because, well, he doesn't have many people to talk to ... Jordan gets a call from a young woman in hysterics because someone's in the process of breaking into her home.  Jordan, rapidly alerts LAPD but they are 8-10 minutes away.  In the meantime, the intruder is in the process of bashing down the door.

What to do?  Jordan asks the young woman to find a room to lock herself in.  She runs upstairs, but to her horror finds that SHE CAN'T SEEM TO LOCK THE DOOR.  "Okay, is there a window?"  Jordan helps her to set it up (QUICKLY) to look like she jumped out the window and ran for help while hiding (somewhere) instead.

In the meantime, the intruder has broken into the house and has begun looking for her.  When he gets to the young woman's bed room, he does see the window open.  Coming to it, it even seems like she dropped something outside after jumping out to run away.  He takes the bait and with a somewhat angry/frustrated "huff,"starts heading out of the house.

When he's outside her room, the woman, hiding under her bed, whispers to Jordon on the phone that he's leaving and even THANKS HER.  Then, suddenly, SHE ACCIDENTLY BRUSHES HER PHONE TOO CLOSE TO HER CHEEK AND THE PHONE HANGS UP.  (Anyone with a wireless phone these days would know how this could happen).  Jordon, REFLEXIVELY PUSHES HER OWN REDIAL BUTTON at the 911 Center TO CALL HER BACK.  The PHONE RINGS ... JUST ONCE ... but the intruder who was leaving HEARS THE RING. He goes back ... finds the girl ... and Jordon realizes to her horror that HER ONE REFLEXIVE SLIP-UP may cost that young woman her life.  Her worst fears are confirmed when a few days later, when police find the young woman's mutilated body buried in a shallow grave in a canyon outside of L.A.  Wow ... needless to say Jordan had to take "some time off..."

When story resumes six months later, is Jordan now working as someone TRAINING people for the job she used to have.  She needed of course the work, but quite understandably didn't want/feel capable of handling the pressure of working as a 911 dispatcher again.

Well as fate would have it while leading a group of trainees through "the Hive," a relatively young 911 dispatcher gets ANOTHER PHONE CALL from ANOTHER YOUNG WOMAN, this time a sweet, young teenager named Casey Welson (played by Abigail Breslin) who's calling frantically from the trunk of a car having been abducted while walking (alone) to her car in the garage of a shopping mall.  The young 911 dispatcher falls to pieces and doesn't know what to do.  Jordan steps up and takes the call.  The rest of the film ensues ...

The rest of the film, of course, is certainly "quite a ride" emotionally and otherwise.  And as a Hollywood movie rest assured that it ends well... that said, see the movie ... 

I would, however, add one more thing: Catholics and other Christians reading here, take note of the ending as once again it plays a variation of the "Virgin/Good Girl defeats the Snake/Monster" motiff (Gen 3:15) that I've written about previously with regards to these kind of movies [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]. Pay attention simply to WHERE the abductor ends-up at the end of the movie and HOW / BY WHOM he is sent there.  Fascinating stuff and Mary would be proud ;-). 

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