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The Call: WWE’s Slow Crawl to Legitimacy

June 29, 2013

The Call Movie Poster

WWE studios is getting close to putting a cohesive film together. They started off well enough with The Scorpion King, Rundown (the best) and Walking Tall but have since faltered in their mission to branch out (Read the MFF roundtable on The Marine series here). Their last film Dead Man Down was directed by Niels Arden Oplev (The original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and featured a fantastic cast comprised of Colin Farrell, Terrence Howard and Noomi Rapace. However, it turned out to be really, really ridiculously bad. The story telling and writing hurt the soul and you felt bad for the actors involved.  However, WWE’s latest venture The Call directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist, Transsiberian, Fringe, Boardwalk Empire)  is the closest they’ve come to a decent non-action film and it is light years better than See No Evil, The Chaperone, The Condemned and No One Lives. More importantly, it was a box office success collecting $50 million at the box office on a $12 million dollar budget.

You might be asking yourself why I inflicted The Call upon myself. I’ve enjoyed watching WWE studios attempt to grow over the years (even if I haven’t enjoyed their films). They are an upstart company looking to find their footing and find a niche alongside the established production studios. I’ve watched them ride the Rock’s coattails, invest heavily in John Cena, excell at direct to DVD action films, attempt drama and slowly bring in big name actors to act alongside the big fellas. The results have been disastrous and occasionally fruitful.

The Call focuses on Halle Berry’s character as she attempts to save Abigail Breslin’s kidnapped teenager. Berry works in a 911 call center and she had a prior run in with the kidnapper one night when the girl he was attacking called her. The girl ended up dying and it justifiably pushed Berry to quit the job and teach incoming call center recruits. However, the killer strikes again and Berry is there to talk the girl through the ordeal.

The movie has a lean and mean plot that movies full steam ahead toward it’s preposterous, bonkers and very dumb ending. The killer is played reliably nutty by Michael Eklund who has worked with WWE studios (Marine 3) before. He is a creepy little fella who recklessy kidnaps an industrious teenager and has to deal with all the intelligent things she does to get free (kick out taillight, pour paint out of car, use hairspray well).

The finale finds Halle hunting down the terrible man on her own. Of course, she goes alone, drops her phone into his lair and has to endure a creepy killer starring a doll head moment. It becomes exploitative and mean which is a let down because the beginning had a  flow that went for tension and not shlock scares. The WWE has a history of turning to unnecessary violence and hopefully they are able get rid of the nasty blood lust and instead focus on character, plot and believable conclusions.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!

The two women end up tying the man to a chair and leave him to die which is a terrible idea because he is an industrious fella with an underground lair. It ends on the EXACT same note that Saw ended with and it makes you incredibly annoyed. Why chance it? He knows who you are and you let him live? Will you come back several days later to make sure he is dead? Could you sleep not knowing if he lived or died?

Don’t watch The Call. Watch Session 9, The Machinist or Vanishing on Seventh Street instead. Hope the WWE gets one step closer to legitimacy with their next film.

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