Film Reviews

In The Call, Halle Berry Goes All Clarice Starling

WWE Studios, the film production arm of World Wrestling Entertainment, breaks from its usual target audience of guys who like films about shirtless, muscley men with The Call, a suspense thriller starring adequate actress and Academy Award recipient Halle Berry as an overcommitted, hotshot 911 emergency operator. When she makes a rookie-level error that costs a teenage girl her life, she opts to hang up her call-center headset -- until the girl's killer kidnaps another teen victim. Locked in a car trunk with a prepaid cell phone, she calls 911. The middle third of the film comprises the phone call, a tight 40 minutes in which the girl, guided by Berry, deploys the contents of the trunk (screwdriver, paint roller handle, cans of white matte finish) to make her kidnapper's vehicle more conspicuous while Berry presses her for details she can relate to the police. In a nod to the studio's usual demographic, two-time WWE tag-team champion David Otunga plays officer Jake Devans, though fans hoping for spinning headlock elbow drops or backflip kicks will be disappointed. When the emergency call ends, Berry drives out to the crime scene the cops traced down and goes all Clarice Starling inside the spooky cabin where the bad guy keeps his Saw basement, which has to be seen as a departure from the film's thin blue line of realism, or the workaday reality that WWE became known for when the Undertaker defeated Kane with his signature Tombstone piledriver at Wrestlemania XX.

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Chris Packham is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

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