|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||The Call|
|Production country:||USA 2013|
|Running time:||Approx. 94 min.|
Actually, Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is an absolute pro at her job as an operator in the Los Angeles police dispatch center. Many times she has helped prevent crimes and send the help people in need crave with her empathetic but rational nature. But one small mistake throws her completely off course, resulting in a girl being killed by a burglar before the police can arrive to save her. Six months later, Jordan still hasn't come to terms with the incident. Instead of answering emergency calls, she now works as an instructor. But just as she's giving her new students a tour of the 911 center, she witnesses a desperate call for help: young Casey (Abigail Breslin) has been kidnapped by a man and is now in the trunk of his car. With her colleague completely overwhelmed by the situation, Jordan must now put all her fears aside to help this girl. When she actually manages to identify the kidnapper's vehicle, Casey's rescue seems within reach. But then the case takes a dramatic turn and the horror seems to repeat itself one more time.
With the atmospheric horror shocker Session 9 and the superb mysetry thriller The Machinist, Brad Anderson has proven himself a master of suspense cinema. However, after his films never managed to attract the very big audience despite mostly very good reviews and his last work The Reign of Shadows went completely under, the director had to settle for priority with jobs on TV series like Fringe, Boardwalk Empire or The Killing in the past years. With The Call - Don't Hang Up! he has finally made it to the cinema again and proves once more, at least in the first half of the film, how skilfully he can build up atmospheric, gripping suspense.
The not always logical behaviour of the protagonists is not really noticeable here either. You root too hard for Jordan to succeed in tracking down Casey's kidnapper and leading the police to the desperate girl before another horrific act of bloodshed occurs. However, the coincidences that benefit the killer take over as time goes on. It's a little unbelievable that there are really only two police officers who go straight after the kidnapper, and then also spend an extreme amount of time collecting evidence, instead of a large force locking down the area. But this can still be dismissed as a dramaturgical necessity if need be, as it allows the chase to be prolonged and the suspense screw to be tightened further.
But in the final third the whole thing takes on almost ridiculous dimensions, especially when Jordan leaves her station and goes off on a vigilante spree alone. Here the thriller not only says goodbye to any form of logic, it also loses a lot of suspense because of the forced plot twists. The entertainment value is still on a decent level, but from the quality of Anderson's earlier films is The Call - Do not hang up! at the latest now miles away.
Acting the film offers no masterpieces, but Oscar winner Halle Berry and the former Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin get out of their clichéd roles quite the best possible. Only Michael Eklund is really good as the psychopathic killer - but only until the final act, where his performance comes across as if he'd watched The Silence of the Lambs once too often as a source of inspiration.
Below the line, The Call - Don't Hang Up! is unfortunately just average thriller fare that squanders its initial potential in favour of stale genre clichés, illogical character behaviour and an overblown finale. If you're looking for a simple thrill ride, you can hardly go wrong here. But if you're also hoping for a clever story, interesting characters and a gripping finale, you'd better hang up the phone real quick. Only conditionally worth seeing!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp