Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

Who Will Answer The Call?

"Hey Halle! It's your agent. I'm looking at the script for Swordfish 2!"

When a deranged killer attacks two women on Halle Berry’s watch, she does what any 911 operator (or Police Communications Technician if the PC Police have their way) would do: she tracks the killer down, fights him, and saves Abigail Breslin’s life.

How many shots of Halle Berry holding a headset to her ear and looking worried is too many? Brad Anderson has directed episodes of Homicide, The Shield, The Wire, Rubicon, Treme and Boardwalk Empire. That’s an impressive string of TV credits. What’s less impressive is his film resume: The Machinist, Transsiberian, Vanishing on 7th Street. Critics have been pretty kind to Anderson films, but it helps to have Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley in front of the camera. Similarly, screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio can’t take credit for how awesome Exit Wounds is. That’s all Steven Seagal. Now their fate is in the hands of modern-day Berry, a grown up Little Miss Sunshine, and a professional wrestler who’s married to Jennifer Hudson.

I’ll say this much for The Call, it doesn’t look like there are going to be any major twists or third act mindfucks. The trailer appears to give up 90% of the plot, which is why I didn’t mind spoiling it in the opening paragraph. It’s a simple good guys vs. bad guys thriller, like an episode of Columbo. I like Columbo. Who knows, maybe it turns out that the killer doesn’t really exist and Halle Berry has multiple personalities. Shocking!

What’s really unique about The Call is that it turns a 911 operator into an action hero. LOL so stupid. I get that we have enough movies about cops and paramedics and firefighters and criminal psychologists and forensic specialists and mountain rescue and mine rescue. But have we really exhausted all the possibilities except for 911 operators? No, we have not. Here are the Top Five Movies I’d Like to Watch Glorifying Less Prominent Emergency Response Professions:

The Toxin – A deranged killer is poisoning consumer products all over the city, causing victims to overwhelm the Poison Control call center. Can a brilliant but misanthropic poison information specialist neutralize the toxins, and uncover the killer’s identity, before the whole city collapses?

The Tow – A deranged killer engages a brilliant but reckless Highway Emergency Response Operator in a deadly game of fetch when the HERO is forced to retrieve disabled vehicles (large and small) from congested areas and deliver them to remote locales in order to save the victims being held captive at each drop site. Can this daredevil beat the clock, uncover the killer’s identity and become a real hero?

The Snare – In a small New England town, a deranged killer is unleashing lethal endangered animals on members of the town’s wealthiest, most powerful family. Can a brilliant but hung over animal control officer wrangle the animals and uncover the killer’s identity before the town’s first family becomes extinct?

The Wrench – A deranged killer is sabotaging squad cars, ambulances and fire engines resulting in horrific accidents and slower-than-normal response times. It’s up to one brilliant but unorthodox mechanic to ensure the vehicles are operating properly before they turn on the sirens. Can he keep emergency services running and uncover the killer’s identity before the city descends into chaos?

The Belay – A deranged killer is suspending their victims from buildings with frayed ropes. A brilliant but suicidal high angle rope rescue technician will scale high-rises to return them to safety, even as he considers letting himself fall to the streets below. Can he uncover the killer’s identity? Can he save the victims? Can he save… himself?

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