“The Caller” in LI Press

By Prairie Miller

Long Island Press

(Belladonna Productions, Unrated)

2/4

Frank Langella and Elliott Gould in "The Caller"
Frank Langella and Elliott Gould in "The Caller"

A helpful rule of thumb for political thrillers is that they should be at least a little political. Marginalizing key historical events to a story as a mere plot device simply leaves them hanging in thin air as the credits roll. Such is the case with The Caller, a potentially bracing crime thriller linked to both WWII carnage and present-day multinational corporate abuses around the world, but investigates nothing politically substantial in the film about either. Holding together a thin narrative with sheer force of personality is Frank Langella, as shrewdly artful a dodger here as he was doing Nixon in that award-winning turn. Langella is Stevens, a global energy corporation executive. After witnessing corporate-directed mass executions in Latin America, he turns whistleblower and resigns himself to his own eventual execution at the hands of the angry company suits. And Stevens hires grumpy private dick Frank (Elliot Gould) to follow him around filming him, until his anticipated fateful day. And while Stevens toys with the investigator, Frank aptly sums up both his current vocational predicament and this movie, as akin to “taking acid and watching bacteria grow on linoleum for days. It’s so boring and monotonous that it’s fascinating.”

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