A2Z Analysiz: The Call (Halle Berry, David Otunga)

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DVD Release Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It would be fair to say that Halle Berry fell victim to the “Oscar curse,” joining the club populated by Mira Sorvino, Cuba Gooding Jr., Adrien Brody, and a host of others. After her much-deserved and history-making win for “Monster’s Ball” in 2002, her starring roles included “Gothika,” “Catwoman,” and “Perfect Stranger.” She had a brief resurgence with the underappreciated “Things We Lost in the Fire” in 2007, but then was gone for four years. She came back with roles in films like “New Year’s Eve,” “Cloud Atlas,” and the much-maligned “Movie 43.”

So, when it became known that Berry would be starring in a WWE Studios production, the level of excitement was understandably low. The expectations were minimal. But a funny thing happened – the movie was a success. After an opening weekend of $17 million and an overall take north of $68 million, it easily became WWE Studios’ most successful venture to date.

Berry plays Jordan, a 9-1-1 operator who transitions into a job as a trainer after a particularly traumatic call that ended badly for the caller. During one of her classes, she comes across a newish operator who is struggling badly with a call. Jordan steps in. The caller is Casey Welson, a normal teenager who was just leaving the mall when she was snatched and put in the trunk of a car.

At a lean 95 minutes, the script by Richard D’Ovidio (with story credits also going to Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokenkamp) doesn’t waste much time in getting this chase underway. Jordan tries to guide the gutsy Casey through her horrific ordeal, while her police officer boyfriend Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut) and his partner Jake Devans (WWE superstar David Otunga) are in pursuit.

Director Brad Anderson (he of the underrated “The Machinist” and “Transsiberian”) keeps the focus tight, and allows Berry and Breslin’s performances drive the movie. While hardly a masterpiece (the third act gets a little silly), this is a solid and taut thriller that puts the spotlight on the women characters, which is still unfortunately rare.

“The Call” didn’t reignite anyone’s career or make any long-term impact, but it was a surprisingly enjoyable and suspenseful thriller, and a modest hit that no one saw coming.

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