Long a bit player in movies, the 911 dispatcher finally gets a starring role. It would seem long overdue, since Halle Berry is apparently among their ranks.
In "The Call" she's an emergency operator in Los Angeles, where the trauma of a first kidnapping case has forced her to hang up the headset. But, having shifted to a trainer position, she's lured back for a second kidnapping call when a rookie dispatcher can't handle the frightening pleas from a taken teenager (Abigail Breslin) trapped in a car's trunk.
Director Brad Anderson ("Transsiberian") working from the simple, high concept screenplay by Richard D'Ovidio, ably cuts between the fraught strategizing at the call center and the frantic police pursuit of the kidnapper (Michael Eklund). The film dials up a shallow thrill ride, but one efficiently peppered with your typical "don't go in there!" moments.
But what once was usual for Hollywood - reliable, popcorn-eating genre frights - isn't so much anymore. A rudimentary, almost old-fashioned 90-minute escape, the film achieves its low ambitions.
Rating: R for violence, disturbing content and some language
Running time: 95 minutes