Friday, June 28, 2013

THE CALL: Another smart (for awhile) and enjoyable (totally) film from Brad Anderson

Even when it goes off the track in its final quarter, THE CALL still manages to be a lot of fun. Prior to this it has been surpri-singly smart, as well as enjoyable. The latest from not-sung-enough (you can't exactly call him "unsung") director & sometimes writer, Brad Anderson (below), this movie continues his winning streak of creating a fascinating oeuvre in which each film is different (from the mainstream and from each other) but con-sistently engaging.

Take a look at Anderson's resume, and you'll see him jumping from genre to genre as though playing hopscotch, with nary a miss in the bunch. Some films work better than others, but all are well enough conceived and executed to qualify for quality stuff. Comedy to horror, thrillers to character studies, drama to rom-com-cum-sci-fi, Anderson has been there, done that and moved on.

With The Call, the filmmaker has his biggest budget for some time (maybe ever..?), and he's put it to good use. Here we are in the Los Angeles area 911 head-quarters, known as "The Hive," with Halle Berry (on poster, top, and bottom, center), as an operator who's very good but maybe gets a little too close to her callers. After one young woman is abducted and murdered while on the phone with our co-heroine, six months later another young woman (Abigail Breslin, below, right) is kidnapped, and the phone-call-cum-chase is on.

Step by step, the movie is surprisingly adept at keeping us nailed to the screen while making rather good sense (not always a mainstay of the thriller genre) regarding place, character and event. Things happen intelligently and quickly, as new characters (like the one played by Michael Imperioli, below) are introduced and dealt with.

Only in the final section does logic and gray matter lose out to some sort of: what? Producer-inspired insistence that everything must come down to a face-off between our two heroines and the bad guy? I'm just guessing, but the ending -- while done with snappy style and enough pizzazz to carry us along, sailing on the good will that the movie has so far built up -- is ludicrous and unbelievable.

Overall, though, The Call is so exciting, well-written (by Richard D'Ovidio), -directed and -acted that I think you'll be (mostly) glad you watched. (That's Morris Chestnut, left, with David Otunga, doing the police thing, above.)

From TriStar Pictures (it's always good to see that flying horse again) and running a crisp 94 minutes, the movie came to DVD and Blu-ray (on which it looks quite sleek) this week, for sale and rental.

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