Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2013. TriStar Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Troika Pictures, WWE Studios, Amasia Entertainment, Apotheosis Media Group, Emergency Films, Roberi Media. Story by Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio, Jon Bokenkamp, Screenplay by Richard D’Ovidio. Cinematography by Tom Yatsko. Produced by Bradley Gallo, Jeffrey Graup, Michael A. Helfant, Michael J. Luisi. Music by John Debney. Production Design by Franco-Giacomo Carbone. Costume Design by Magali Guidasci. Film Editing by Avi Youabian.
At the other end of your 911 call is one of many operators who are deftly trained at zeroing in on your emergency and having help sent to you as quickly as possible. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a Quiet Room for when things pile up too high, these members of a large team handle everything from violent break-ins to drunk and lonely pranks, and the crack ace we focus on (Halle Berry) carries it all off with cool aplomb. When the brutal death of one of her callers causes her guilt and a loss of faith in her own abilities, Berry takes herself off the floor and switches to the training department. Chancing to take over a call from a panicked new recruit after months in her new assignment, she ends up on the line with a teenager (Abigail Breslin) who has been abducted by a mad sadist and is calling from the trunk of his car. Gradually throughout the process of speaking to the girl and understanding her circumstances, Berry realizes that she is dealing with the same killer who knocked her out months earlier, and she now has a chance to get even. As ridiculous as the whole thing sounds, firm direction and fantastic performances from the leads and the supporting cast really get the job done here. Director Brad Anderson employs no frills in telling a tight, smooth story that grabs you from the beginning and never lets you go, intensely dramatic without ever taking itself too seriously or indulging in mawkish sentimentality. The conclusion ups the ante with some scary horror film situations, too clichéd to hit the brilliance of Silence of the Lambs but far too efficiently told for it to be a problem. Even at its most implausible, this film never loses its connection with its viewer, who is compelled to stay to see it through.