I’m not sure what kind of rescuing, calming, almost know-it-all personality
would be required for a 911 operator, especially in a huge city like L.A.,
where the emergencies are literally happening all the time. Yeah, sure, they
would train you, and try to prepare you for the many varied calls you would
receive. Yes, sometimes the calls would be spurious, even pranks. Yes, maybe
there would be a convict in prison who calls regularly just because he has no
one else to talk to, or anyone that might carry on a little conversation with
him even if they realized who he was. Sure, there are plenty of calls that
result in sending police or fire dispatch immediately, and apparently these
L.A. operators have the capacity to do that, because they are an arm of the
In fact, Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) happens to have a boyfriend, Paul
Phillips (Morris Chestnut) who’s on the police force, and we’re calmly
setting up the crisis by showing them nuzzling outside during her break, her
with the flirt-giggles, and him with the cooing in the ear. Very sweet.
But what happens to Jordan when she returns to work chills everyone to the
bone. There’s a 911 call from an hysterical woman who’s crying about an
intruder entering her house. Jordan tells her to run upstairs and lock the
door, but the lock isn’t working, so she’s hiding under the bed, Jordan
still on the line, but when the connection gets turned off, Jordan
instinctively redials, which, you guessed it, alerts the intruder. And after
he does his dirty deeds of kidnapping and murdering and disfiguring and
leaving the corpse to be found by the authorities, it’s all over the news.
And it’s all Jordan can do to hold it together. She takes a leave of absence
from work, then returns as an instructor. One of the eager new learners asks
her why she doesn’t take calls any more, and we feel her pain all over
But then another crisis develops in the “hive,” as they dub the call
center (because usually it’s buzzing with activity from the “worker
bees”). An hysterical woman is calling from the trunk of a car, because
she’s been abducted from the parking garage of a mall. The young employee
taking the call seems overwhelmed, and admits she doesn’t know what to do.
Jordan takes over, and her touring newbies are ushered out. Jordan tries to
calm down the frantic caller and get her to do something constructive, like
kick out the back taillight and stick her hand out and wave. Anything to draw
someone else’s attention. And, of course, soon we learn that it’s the same
guy that still haunts Jordan’s nightmares.
Michael Eklund plays Michael Foster, the creepy bad guy, with a forceful
combination of barely-controlled fury and psychotic quiescence, as if this
isn’t any more traumatic than pumping gas. The chase scene is elongated
because the girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin) has one of those prepaid phones, at
the suggestion of her mall-shopping friend, who says their parents can’t
have it traced as easily. Well, that seems to be true. But neither can the
police department trace it, and Casey could use some serious help about now.
How personal does Jordan take this? Is she able to prevent another tragedy?
Will she be a basket case herself after this crisis? Yes, the camera loves
Halle Berry, anyway, and we cannot help but watch her. But this time there’s
a riveting plot that carries us along for an emotional roller coaster, where
you’re still feeling the jarring effects even after the ride is over.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving,