After this unusually well-made thriller builds suspense to almost unbearable levels, the filmmakers nearly throw everything away with a gear-change so contrived that we can't help but laugh. It's one of those ill-conceived final acts that seems to have been written by a focus group that wanted to see something "satisfying" on screen even if it violates the integrity of the entire story. Fortunately the cast is good enough to get away with it.
Most of the story takes place in a Los Angeles emergency call centre, where Jordan (Berry) receives a horrific call from a teen girl who's being stalked in her own home. And Jordan blames herself for the violence that follows. Six months later, she has removed herself to a training job, but gets roped in when another teen, Casey (Breslin), calls in panic from the boot of a moving car. This is clearly the same villain (Eklund) as before, and Jordan does everything she can to help Casey both survive and reveal her location. Along the way Jordan's assisted by a passerby (Imperioli) as well as her cop ex-boyfriend (Chestnut).
So far so good, as both Jordan's and Casey's perspectives ratchet up the emotional intensity. The kidnapper is seriously deranged and oddly difficult to track as time runs out. And here's where the film jumps the rail: Jordan takes matters into her own hands, heading out into danger without bothering to call for back-up. This sets up a rather terrifying final showdown that would have been much more involving if we could believe it.
Berry and Breslin throw themselves into their roles, delivering visceral, wrenching performances that hold our attention even when the story wobbles. And director Anderson puts us right into the middle of everything in a remarkably effective way, taking us into some very grisly shadows as things get much more sadistic than we expect. All of this helps keep us gripped right through the overwrought finale. But with a little more faith in the material, this could have been a minor classic.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 15th March 2013
Box Office USA: $51.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $51.9M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Troika Pictures, WWE Studios, Emergency Films, Apotheosis Media Group, Amasia Entertainment, TriStar Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 71
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Brad Anderson
Producer: Bradley Gallo, Jeffrey Graup, Michael A. Helfant, Michael Luisi, Robert Stein
Screenwriter: Richard D'Ovidio
Starring: Halle Berry as Jordan Turner, Abigail Breslin as Casey Welson, Morris Chestnut as Officer Phillips, Michael Imperioli as Alan Denado, Ella Rae Peck as Autumn, Roma Maffia as Maddy, Steven Williams as Terrance, Michael Eklund as Michael Foster, Justina Machado as Michael Foster's Wife, José Zúñiga as Marco, Tara Platt as Female Trainee
Also starring: David Otunga
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