The Call (2013)
I was baffled and very disappointed at just how much of a B-movie mess the skilled director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) was able to make of this film, which up until the third act is a stout, intense and intelligent thriller about a senior 911 call center operator (Halle Berry) who is unable to stop a young female caller from being kidnapped, finds herself deeply affected by the event, and then gets a second chance with another young victim in a similar situation. As one of the first films taking the 911 operators' point of view, The Call perfectly captures the feeling of powerlessness when things go astray and there's nothing left to be done via phone or dispatch, and Anderson's respectful handling of both victim, operator and even perpetrator makes the film intensely realistic, and with that refreshingly free from genre expectations. The film has a number of possible turns to take as it approaches the final act, but somehow it manages to not only choose a worn path of freudian sensationalism to backdrop the story, but we're also dragged through every possible contrived turn of events in order to get there. As we finally cross the 90-minute mark, there's not much identifiable left in any of these characters - despite the actors' best efforts. A wasted potential, but still two thirds of a good film nonetheless.