The Call Up – Review

Gaming is often a misperceived by the major publications. The influx of violent game play and real life implications have been a hot topic for years. The idea that you could rampage on with believable graphics and shoot life-like things but then separate it from reality is baffling for some people. The grip of those unable to see the escapism of gaming have imposed strict propaganda and calling it fact. Truth be told, people can play video games without turning into killers and can separate computers from the real world.

However, if you were presented with a game that immersed you so realistically in modern warfare and you really felt was though you were shooting a gun, would you?

That’s the theme of The Call Up, a brand new science fiction thriller from director and writer Charles Barker. It revolves around a group of online gamers who are invited to try out a brand new virtual reality experience. Excited, the gamers leap on the chance to play state-of-the-art equipment and soon, they are playing in the immersive shenanigans. However, they start to realise that something more sinister is happening. Could the game be real?

Similar to last week’s low budget British sci-fi Kill Command, The Call Up has an interesting premise and starts of phenomenally well. The conflict of modern warfare in popular gaming, especially in a world where the industry relies on killing and shooting games, clearly drives the movie forward. The intriguing and brooding initial narrative allows the audiences to be immersed into this question of how far we can push gaming and how your morals can be thrown into turmoil when the life at the end of your hyper-realistic trigger could actually be real. On these aspects, the actors and the film thrive in a thrilling cinematic product.

But sadly, these interests don’t last and the movie relies heavily on action flick clichés and bounds forward in unoriginality. The film sticks to a one-note story that turns boring as you long for exploration of those leading the charge and despite presenting us with all the moral conflicts, it safe side-steps them without making a clear conclusion. Without stepping out into an edgier and grittier intellectual movie, The Call Up wanes into an explosive and “pretty to look at” movie that is garishly predictable and somewhat dull and that’ll add to your frustration because there are could elements here.

The combination of aesthetics and a team of great actors pull the film away from its downfalls and actually has you enjoying the experience, as average as that may be. What’s disappointing is that the simplistic approach to a complex story, particularly with the character motives, is that the bones of a phenomenal film are there but it’s as though those involved are too afraid to flesh it out beyond the idea. With that in mind, the film is wasted.

However, for science fiction nerds and gamers, the chilling thriller could be worth a watch.


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