Saturday, 23 March 2013

REVIEW - THE CALL


I'd like to report a murder. The victim's name is 'Halle Berry's career'. But that's old news, I suppose. And not even entirely apt - Berry's one of the best things about this lukewarm thriller. Granted, she leaves most of the character-related heavy lifting to her hair, but Berry has a tendency to overcook things when given the chance, and The Call offers her few opportunities to do so, forcing her to rely on her affable charisma and screen presence. This is a thriller designed with the sole purpose of thrilling, and I like that. It has a leanness and a straightforwardness that appeal to me. No fluff, no guff. It gets to the point. The problems lie with what the point is, though. The Call initially fumbles around with expository scenes only present to lull the viewer, confirming that they're in familiar territory - these scenes accomplish utterly nothing otherwise. Subsequently, it cuts to the chase (so to speak), and this is where it delivers the goods. This is formulaic filmmaking, getting by on a high concept and at a high speed, with a lot of lumpy editing, melodramatic music and mumbled dialogue - it's terrific stuff. And then, just as you begin to think you could do with a whole lot more of this, it hits a brick wall before stuttering to its inane conclusion. 90% of the plot is abandoned, and we're expected to either summon some sort of meaning for what happens next from other films we've seen, or give leave to our collective consciousness. The final twenty minutes of The Call have the atmosphere of a half-remembered dream, in that you wonder where most of it went, specifically the parts where sense and reason kicked in. The final scene is so moronic, you wonder why Halle Berry demanded so much money for her topless shot in Swordfish, and yet doesn't seem to have demanded even more for this tripe. Oh yeah, her career! The damage? It's already done.