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.
Continue reading: The Call Review
Jordan Turner is a 911 emergency call operator whose life is turned upside down when one distressed girl's call complaining of an intruder in her house ends in a brutal murder. Shaken and traumatised, Jordan contemplates taking a different career path as she struggles to come to terms with what happened when she recognises that her own actions could have been a catalyst in the girl's fate. With the support of her cop boyfriend, she finds the strength to remain as that steady, calm figure that has helped so many people in the most devastating of situations. However, when another girl dials 911 from the trunk of a kidnapper's car, she realises that, through several disturbingly familiar similarities, they are dealing with the same killer and this time she is determined not to let another girl die. Passing on a series of careful instructions to the victim, she takes matters into her own hands and goes from operator to rescuer in a matter of hours.
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Both the credit and the blame go to writer-director Robert Celestino. His cornball plot shouldn't work, but his direction, especially with actors, does. Chazz Palminteri (Celestino's executive producer) is the title guy, a gambling stiff with an amazing ability to cheat crap games. He'll belly up to a table, pull some David Blaine-like moves to drop tainted dice into a game, and make a fortune. Unfortunately, Atlantic City security has his number, and private games are too small for his ambitions.
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Why didn't this movie find more success? I dunno, maybe it has something to do with the fact that there are two scenes of women sitting on the toilet in the first 20 minutes. Or it could be that it's too chatty, too meandering, and too random to ever really engage the viewer. Whatever, I still don't know what I'm supposed to be able to tell, you know, just by looking at her.
Continue reading: Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Review
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