I’m probably not the only one who has never put much thought into the role of emergency serivce operators, because the action is always with police/fire fighters/ambulances. Seeing a story from this angle peeked my interest and the opening completely gripped me. As Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) sits at her desk, head set on, dealing with the serious and not so serious emergencies of a big city she is unaware that the next call she will receive is from Leah, a young girl who is ringing to report a break in at her home. Armed with a knife, Leah begs Jordan to send help, trying to calm Leah into hiding it’s hard to lose interest as the intruder stalks around Leah’s home. We wait anxiously with Jordan who is no wiser than we are, actualy it’s rare that we ever have the upper hand of knowledge for the first half of the film – we learn things as Jordan does – so we’re hanging onto every word.
When Jordan breaks protocol and it ends up in Leah’s death we see the hint of the strong, rational minded lady that we got before ‘the call’ dissapear as emotion and guilt takes over. 6 months later, after stepping away from her head set, Jordan works to train those who are wanting to be 911 operators. She’s fast to point out the rules of working the job: don’t get emotionally invested and don’t make promises. During a tour of the centre she drops in on the call of a young woman being abducted and – when the operator begins to panic – takes over to talk to new abductee, Casey (Abigail Breslin) who is trapped in the boot of a car. In an attempt to redeem herself we see Jordan breaking her own rules and also giving Casey advice on how to get the attention of other drivers. Halle Berry provides an emotional and gripping performance; making me question why I’ve never thought of watching more of her films.
As the twists and turns continue; Casey almost being rescued, Casey almost dying, Casey almost being rescued, Casey almost breaking free, it’s definitely an edge-of-your-seat kind of experience. I couldn’t help but feel that I was watching a feature length episode of Criminal Minds with the pace and the action being fast and exciting during the chase. However, when the lines of communication between the two girls are cut and we learn that Casey’s kidnapper and Leah’s killer are the same person, Jordan’s emotions get the better of her and this becomes a personal mission.
Without the tightness of the car boot and the confides of Jordan’s head set, the film loses some of it’s tenseness. There’s an attempt to build some back story for crazed killer Michael (Michael Eklund) but by this point it’s hard to be interested. As the films builds to its final act it takes a twist and sees Jordan going to find Casey for herself with help from her boyfriend/police officer, Paul (Morris Chestnut). It seems as though the excitement and white knuckle potential has vanished as Jordan begins to take the law into her own hands with some questionable actions. The film takes one final twist in a list ditch attempt to add one more layer to this simple crime thriller but it’s lost in its unwantedness.
I enjoyed this film for the most part, Halle Berry was good and it kept me entertained. While the tenseness and the gripping scenes come from the not knowing, meaning that on a second viewing the film would lose a lot of what it has going for it, it’s certainly worth a watch. Maybe just make up your own ending.
Thanks for reading,
all the best,