Sadistic game of cat and mouse in tense thriller
Thriller/Action. Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli, Roma Maffia, Evie Thompson. Director: Brad Anderson.
Notwithstanding a ridiculous final act that seemingly belongs to a different film, The Call is a slick, nail-biting thriller that propels us satisfyingly close to the edge of our seats.
Director Brad Anderson navigated emotionally richer terrain on the big screen in his earlier films, The Machinist and Transsiberian. However, recent stints behind the camera on TV series Boardwalk Empire, Alcatraz and The Killing serve him well here and he cranks up tension with aplomb.
The middle section is genuinely exhilarating, ricocheting between emergency services and a kidnap victim, trapped in the claustrophobic boot of her abductor's car.
NEW FROM SYMPLY - a wet dog food in a tray freshly steamed with real meat and veg you can see minimum of 68% meat content up to 72% in the adult trays.
Terms: Come and try tray at introductory price of £1
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
Screenwriter Richard D'Ovidio takes a staple of the genre – an imperilled heroine, who loses her clothes for no compelling reason – as the seed for his sadistic game of cat and mouse between a 911 call centre operator and a serial killer with a penchant for blonde girls.
In a tense opening sequence, terrified teenager Leah Templeton (Evie Thompson) dials 911 to report an intruder in her family home. Skilled operator Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) coolly advises Leah to lock herself in a room and remain on the line. Unfortunately, the plan goes tragically awry and Jordan finds herself on the line with the intruder.
"I suggest you leave that house before you do something you regret," she barks.
"It's already done," growls the man, establishing a snappy catchphrase, which is recycled at two pivotal moments later in the film.
Leah is slain and Jordan hangs up her headset.
Six months later, the same madman, Michael Foster (Michael Eklund), abducts a blonde teenager, Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), from a shopping mall.
Jordan happens to be in the call centre "hive" when Casey's distressed telephone call comes through and the operator takes charge, determined to make amends for Leah.
Haunted by the words of her police officer father – "You might be the difference between somebody living and somebody dying" – Jordan provides Casey with ingenious suggestions for attracting attention from passing motorists.
When one driver (Michael Imperioli) takes note, it seems Casey's tearful prayers could be answered...
The Call speed-dials suspense for the opening hour, cross cutting between jittery Jordan and hysterical Casey, who gradually bond through the magic of mobile communication.
Romance/Drama. Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Charles Edwards, Cas Anvar, Juliet Stevenson, Art Malik. Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel.
In life, Diana, Princess Of Wales divided opinion, so it's fitting that Oliver Hirschbiegel's drama, based on Kate Snell's contentious book Diana: Her Last Love, should have stirred controversy before a single frame has unspooled on the big screen. Dr Hasnat Khan, the subject of the picture, publicly denounced Diana as a fiction, while a pre-recorded radio interview with star Naomi Watts ended abruptly, with the suggestion that she walked out on DJ Simon Mayo.
Tittle tattle aside, Diana is a trashy made-for-TV movie, blessed with an award-winning German director and an Oscar-nominated lead actress, whose talents are well and truly squandered. Both are undone by Stephen Jeffrey's clumsy script while Watts also lacks sexual chemistry with co-star Naveen Andrews, making a mockery of the tears and tantrums when the central relationship ultimately breaks down.
"I'll never be happy again, I just know it," whimpers Diana to gal pal Sonia (Juliet Stevenson). If the public image of the princess was elegance and poise, behind the scenes in Hirschbiegel's film she is emotionally cold and calculating, tipping off a tabloid photographer to her whereabouts so he can splash pictures of her on a yacht with Dodi Fayed (Can Anvar) and pique the jealousy of Dr Khan (Andrews).
Pathetic attempts to win Khan back take a leaf out of the book of Bridget Jones – minus the excessive smoking – including scenes of Diana attempting different dialects in the hope the doctor will take her call.
"Yes, I've been a mad bitch, yes I've been a stalker and yes I put on the clumsiest Liverpool accent to get your attention!" she concedes in one of many scenes that beggar belief.
An excessive two-hour running time will test the patience of even the most ardent and devoted Diana fan.