World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is no doubt the most famous wrestling organisation in the world. Formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the company has gone through many ups and downs before becoming the company it is today.
In more recent years the company has branched out into other areas of entertainment, with their film making subsidiary WWE Studios providing film fans with a steady dose of no nonsense action, thriller and horror movies featuring a roster of their wrestlers in leading roles.
The company had branched out into film making briefly in the latter part of the 1980’s with the unsuccessful No Hold Barred (1989), which was made under the Shane Distribution Company, named after owner Vince McMahon’s son.
Mostly panned by film critics, No Hold Barred was made as an attempt to launch Hulk Hogan’s film career. He had briefly made a small but memorable appearance a number of years prior in Rocky 3 (1982).
It would be over a decade before the company would make further attempts to branch out into the film industry. They would create their film making arm in 2002, initially calling it WWE Films. They would start off by co-producing The Scorpion King (2002), a spinoff from the earlier The Mummy Returns (2001), although this could really be considered an in name only credit, as the company had almost no creative control in the final product.
The company is mainly credited due to the film makers using one of the company’s WWE superstars in the title role. This would be the case for most of these earlier films, with them moving into producing their own features in
The Mummy (1999) had proven to be quite a success, being a fun adventure movie in the Indiana Jones style. Unfortunately the sequel wasn’t nearly as successful, with director Stephen Sommers seemingly forgetting what made the first film so enjoyable.
The sequel did get one thing right, with WWE Superstar The Rock, A.K.A. Dwayne Johnson, appearing in a small role during the opening of the film. The plan was to introduce his character of The Scorpion King, and then give the character his own film later.
The Rock managed to make an impression with his limited screen time, with him only appearing in the first ten minutes. His character does reappear in the finale but the charismatic actor was replaced by a poor CGI monstrosity.
Luckily The Scorpion King has the actor at the forefront, with their being no issues with dodgy CGI. Directed by Chuck Russell, The Scorpion King managed to be a more enjoyable entry into The Mummy franchise, even though it was made on a fraction of the budget
The film takes a step back from the more fantastical elements of the two films that preceded it, being more of a swords and sandals film. The Rock fares well in his numerous action scenes, with the filmmakers playing to his strengths and even letting him throw in the odd wrestling move.
He is supported by the likes of Michael Clarke Duncan, Grant Heslov and Kelly Hu who manage to at least make their underwritten parts enjoyable.
The film would prove to be so successful that Universal would continue the franchise, making three DTV sequels of varying quality.
The company’s next production would be another starring vehicle for The Rock. The Rundown (2003) from director Peter Berg plays like a throwback to the action films of the 1980’s, even in as much as having a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger who tells The Rock in his opening scene to “have fun”.
The plot concerns The Rock as a Bounty Hunter who travels to South America to track down Sean William Scott, who has holed up in a small mining town. Before they know it they are up against Christopher Walken who runs the local mine, as he has found out that Scott has come into possession of a famous artefact.
The Rock is even better in his second starring vehicle and has good chemistry with Scott. Like The Scorpion King, the filmmakers use his athleticism to their advantage, with the addition of more gunplay this time round.
The most memorable action scene has The Rock square of the terrific Ernie Reyes Jr, who puts him through his paces. Interestingly, future martial arts star Marko Zaror worked behind the scenes on the film as one of the Rock’s doubles.
This was only Peter Berg’s second film as director. His first film was the extremely dark comedy Very Bad Things (1998), with nothing in that film to show the director had a flair for action.
There has been the odd misstep for Berg, with both Hancock (2008) and Battleship (2012) not being well received. However the director has still gained major success with the likes of The Kingdom (2007), Lone Survivor (2013) and last year’s Patriots Day (2016) which have further established him as a great action director.
WWE Films next production would again be a starring vehicle for The Rock. Walking Tall (2004) was a considerably smaller scale film than their previous two films with the actor.
Based on cult favourite Walking Tall (1973), which documented the real life exploits of Sherriff Buford Pusser, played by Joe Don Baker. The remake only retains the most basic of links to the original film, with The Rock playing the totally fictional Chris Vaughn.
After his return from the army, Vaughn notices that his home town has become a shadow of its former self. He finds that the local mill, which employed the majority of the town, was closed by local businessman Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough). Hamilton has since opened a Casino that is mainly the reason for all the trouble in town.
After a run in with the security staff at the casino, Vaughn finds himself tortured and dumped by the side of the road. After the failure of the local Sherriff to bring the culprits to justice, Vaughn decides to run for election to become the new town Sherriff, which leads to a number of confrontations between him and Hamilton’s men.
One of the main issues with Walking Tall, other than it having nothing to do with the original, is the brief running time. The film is pretty much over at the hour and eighteen minutes mark, with the remainder of the running time being taken up by credits.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the film moved at a brisk pace and was action packed, but this was the least action heavy of The Rocks early films. There are some well done action scenes but are for the most part, brief.
The majority of the run time is taken up with The Rock’s rehabilitation after his attack, or his investigation into Hamilton, where he is assisted in his endeavours by Johnny Knoxville who manages to inject a bit of humour into proceedings.
Further time is taken up by love interest Ashley Scott, with a PG13 sex scene thrown in to seemingly fill some screen time. At least Neal McDonough adds some value as the charismatic villain, even if his screen time is limited.
After Walking Tall, director Kevin Bray would mostly work in television, with his only other film of note being DTV effort Linewatch (2008), starring Cuba Gooding Jr.
Like The Scorpion King before it, there were further inferior entries made in the Walking Tall series, with them likewise being released direct to DVD. The lead role was taken up this time by Kevin Sorbo of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) fame.
For what would be the company’s first major production, instead of being an in name only co-production, WWE Films would take a step away from the action genre, moving into horror territory with See No Evil (2006).
Unlike the previous films the company had been involved in, which all starred The Rock, the leading role was given to Glenn Jacobs, otherwise known to wrestling fans as Kane. Another major difference from the star vehicles of The Rock was the level of violence, with See No Evil being given a well deserved R rating.
Considering the film opened to increasingly poor reviews, the film is better than expected. It still does fall into clichés like most slasher films, but is directed with surprising skill by director Gregory Dark, who handles the various gore scenes well. The reason for the surprise is due to Dark’s history in the adult film industry.
Admittedly, Dark handles the on screen violence better than his actors, with the majority of the performances being poor, with only Kane making something of an impression, and this is more to do with his imposing frame than his acting.
In the same year the studio would make an attempt to launch another of their superstars as an action star. This time round it was the turn of John Cena, headlining The Marine (2006). Originally the film was developed as a starring vehicle for WWE Superstar Steve Austin. Austin and WWE weren’t able to come to an agreement with the result being that his role was given to Cena.
The Marine was one of WWE Films most successful films at the time, and even if not their best was an enjoyably over the top action movie, that is only slightly hindered by it adherence to its PG13 rating.
Since the release of The Marine, John Cena has managed to have quite the varied film career, with him latterly showing an untapped potential for comedy in films like Trainwreck (2015) and the HBO special Tour de Pharmacy (2017).
With The Marine he doesn’t get much of a chance to stretch his acting muscles, but manages to make for a convincing action hero, in the same mould made popular by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in the 1980’s.
One other area that helps the film is that it co-starred the great Robert Patrick as the lead villain, who manages to steal the film from its lead. Also look out for Manu Bennett of Spartacus (2010) and Arrow (2013) fame as one of Patrick’s henchman.
Director John Bonito does a decent job of keeping the pace flowing, getting good performances from his cast, who make up for a slightly mediocre script. Surprisingly Bonito has only directed one other film since, thriller Carjacked (2011).
In regards to the script, it was the work of Allan B. McElroy, a veteran of the action and horror genre. He has written scripts for the likes of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Rapid Fire (1992) and Spawn (1997). He returned to The Marine franchise years later with The Marine 4: Moving Target (2015).
The Marine series is to date the WWE’s longest running franchise, with the ensuing parts in the series being made for the DTV market, and starring a host of WWE talent.
After missing out on The Marine, Steve Austin finally got his chance to headline a feature film. Austin had already made appearances in the television show Nash Bridges (1999) as well as having a supporting role in the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard (2005), but The Condemned (2007) was the first time he was the star.
His role in The Condemned was better suited to Austin’s personality, being a better fit than what John Cena had been given in The Marine. Austin has all the wisecracks and attitude that any fan of his wrestling would expect, and makes for a great action hero.
It helps that Austin isn’t a conventional leading man, looking decidedly rough around the edges. He has various violent encounters throughout the film, the best of these being his fight with villain Vinnie Jones.
The Condemned is basically a take on The Running Man (1987) and Battle Royale (2000), just with less political overtones. Like a lot of WWE films, the film opened to the usual unwarranted negative reviews, with critics seemingly expecting more from a low budget actioner starring a wrestler.
Director Scott Wiper has a flair for action, something he had previously shown with his last directorial offering A Better Way to Die (2000). The Condemned is more straightforward than that film, but Wiper still shows skill behind the camera and manages to make The Condemned look more expensive that what its $3 million budget would imply.
Vinnie Jones may get second billing, but he is really only a secondary villain. The mastermind behind the plot is Australian actor Robert Mammone, who plays an especially slimy TV producer. Mammone is probably best known for his role in Australian crime drama Underbelly (2008) or soap opera Home and Away (2009).
Like The Marine, The Condemned also has a supporting role for a pre fame Manu Bennet, but like his previous film for WWE, he doesn’t get a great deal to do. The same is true of Sullivan Stapleton, who spends most of his screen time trying to convince his superiors to go in and save Austin. Like Bennet, Stapleton would go on to gain his own level of fame, starring as one of the leads in Cinemax’s Strike Back (2011).
There was more Australian talent working behind the scenes of the film, as the great Richard Norton was fight choreographer on the film as well as doubling Vinnie Jones for certain parts of the film.
The Condemned would be the last film from the company to be under the WWE Films banner, with the company changing their name to WWE Studios thereafter.
There would be a gap of around 2 years before WWE Studios would return with their next film. Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia (2009), was the third part in the franchise, started back with the Owen Wilson vehicle Behind Enemy Lines (2001).
Whilst part 3 is a lesser film from WWE Studios, it managed to be a major improvement on the second film in the franchise, Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil (2006), which was mostly forgettable. It additionally marked the first film from the studio to be made for the DTV market.
The plot involves a small group of Navy Seals on a covert mission in Columbia. They end up having to try and fight their way out against the Columbian Special Forces after they are set up for a crime they didn’t commit.
As well as being WWE’s first DTV effort, it was their first film not to have one of their wrestlers as the main star. One of their stars, Ken Anderson (Mr Kennedy), features heavily in a supporting role but the lead is taken by Joe Manganiello.
This was before Manganiello found success with TV series True Blood (2010) and the film Magic Mike (2012). His role here doesn’t exactly stretch him as an actor, being a generic action hero. He does look good in his action scenes, with his hand to hand fight with the main villain in the finale being a definite highlight.
Ken Anderson provides solid backup, getting his own fair share of action scenes, but he doesn’t get as much of a chance to impress as previous WWE stars.
There are some recognisable faces in the supporting such as Steven Bauer and Keith David, who was in the first film but as a different character.
As well as having a small role in the film, it was directed by actor turned director Tim Matheson. The majority of his directing work has been on television, with him contributing episodes to a good number of hits, with shows like The West Wing (2006), Criminal Minds (2006) and Burn Notice (2007) amongst them.
Matheson does well with the limited resources he is given, clearly evident that this was a low budget movie. The action scenes are well directed but would have been better with some more money spent on them.
In the same year, WWE Studios would return to cinema screens with 12 Rounds (2009), John Cena’s second attempt at movie stardom. Like most WWE films, it opened to the expected poor reviews, with numerous critics complaining about the films similarities to Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).
On this count, the film is guilty of copying Die Hard with a Vengeance, but so have a lot of action films. The film Speed (1994) is regarded as one of the best action films of the 1990’s, but is essentially just Die Hard on a bus.
Of course 12 Rounds isn’t on the same level as these classics, but there is still enough well done action scenes to keep fans of the genre happy.
Unlike some of WWE’s previous releases, 12 Rounds had a somewhat more prolific director. Renny Harlin had directed some classics of the action genre, with blockbusters Die Hard 2 (1990), Cliffhanger (1993) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) being the best example of his work.
By the time he came to 12 Rounds, his career had faltered with a string of critical failures including Driven (2001), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and The Covenant (2007).
12 Rounds may pale in comparison to his more celebrated work but was a major improvement over his recent work, with him at the very least making an enjoyable action film.
John Cena’s role calls for him to do a bit more than he had previously in The Marine, but like that film, the plot again revolves around the kidnapping of his wife. He had certainly developed as an actor in the few years that had passed, with some humour being added to his role. He works well with Brian J White, who plays his partner in the film.
Of the supporting cast, Aiden Gillen manages to make an impression as the films main villain, but he has done better work, most recently as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones (2011).
This was the second WWE film for Ashley Scott, but like Walking Tall she gets lumbered with another thankless role, this time spending the majority of the film tied up.
12 Rounds proved to be successful enough to warrant two sequels, albeit the two of them being DTV productions with considerably lower production values.
WWE Studios wouldn’t stop with 12 Rounds, with them releasing a third film in the same year. The Marine 2 (2009), was an in name only sequel made for the DTV market. With this in mind, it is a surprise that The Marine 2 would turn out to be one of WWE Studios best action films and a major improvement on the first film.
Taking over from John Cena was Ted DiBiase Jr, playing a different Marine than the first film. DiBiase Jr is probably best known as being the son of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase as well as having his own wrestling career. He has since retired from professional wrestling, with The Marine 2 being his only film appearance to date.
Although DiBiase Jr appears slightly wooden in his more dramatic scenes, he is excellent when it comes to the action, with him performing all his own fight and stunt scenes. He even suffered for his art as he ended up separating the cartilage between his ribs during the production.
Making up for DiBiase Jr in the acting stakes is the always great Michael Rooker, as an ex soldier who helps DiBiase Jr after terrorists attack the resort he is vacationing in. The terrorists are led by Temuera Morrison, who makes for a great bad guy.
Made for a fraction of the budget of the first film, The Marine 2 manages to look much more expensive. This is possibly due to the production being shot in Thailand, which adds production value to the film. There is also the fact that the film was helmed by DTV specialist Roel Reine, who always seems able to stretch his budgets to look more expensive than they are.
For their next film, WWE Studios would take another step away from action movies, with the drama Legendary (2010). Unfortunately the results were only passable, with the film playing like a TV movie of the week.
Legendary did give lead actor John Cena a chance to act in a more dramatic film, with him being surprisingly good. He is more than matched performance wise by Patricia Clarkson, who plays his mother. Backing them up is Danny Glover, who is always good value, as the too old for this shit coach.
Perhaps the reason Legendary feels mostly like a TV movie is down to director Mel Damski, who has been working steadily in television since the early 1970’s, with only the odd foray into movie work.
WWE Studios would find their self in a bit of a rut at this point, with their following films stepping even further away from the action genre. Legendary would be followed up by the ill advised Knucklehead (2010), a lowbrow comedy featuring WWE Superstar The Big Show.
Co-star Dennis Farina had stated in an interview that it was the most embarrassing production that he had ever played a part in.
The same is mostly true of their next feature, family comedy The Chaperone (2011). This time it was the turn of wrestler Triple H (Paul Levesque) to take the spotlight. Only slightly better than Knucklehead, the film is still a disappointment and not what fans of Triple H expected from his first feature.
Character actor Kevin Corrigan makes things almost bearable, but the film seems stuck in low gear, with a poorly written script and pedestrian direction.
That’s What I Am (2011) was a major improvement on WWE’s last two films, but was clearly not made with WWE fans in mind. A coming of age comedy-drama, That’s What I Am is based around 12 year Andy, played by Chase Ellison and his experiences at high school in the 1960’s.
The film is bolstered by excellent performances from Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Molly Parker and young Chase Ellison in the lead role. That’s What I Am marked the first film from the company to not be headlined by one of their WWE wrestlers. However, wrestler Randy Orton does appear in a supporting role, with him being a better actor than expected.
Director Mike Pavone had mainly directed television although his directorial debut was on Chameleon (1995), an excellent thriller starring an on form Anthony LaPaglia.
Pavone was already working for the WWE at the time of That’s What I Am’s production. He was hired in 2008 as a creative consultant, then later going on to become executive VP of WWE Studios. He left the company in 2011. Apparently his leaving was partly due to the poor box office of That’s What I Am.
WWE’s follow up would put them back in thriller territory, but with mixed results. Inside Out (2011) gave star Triple H a better leading role than the earlier The Chaperone, but the film is still hamstrung by a meandering plot and being miss-sold as an action thriller.
Like some of their other productions of this time, there is little in the way of fight action that would keep WWE fans happy. There is the odd brief violent scene, but nothing you could really call action.
At least the performances are better than usual. Triple H seems more comfortable, playing a man released from prison after a 13 years stretch for manslaughter. While in prison, his best friend (Michael Rappaport) marries his girlfriend played by Parker Posey. He also has to deal with his friends dad Dr Vic, played by a scene stealing Bruce Dern.
Inside Out may be slow, but is somewhat saved by good performances from its cast, with even Triple H rising to the challenge. It is directed in a very un-showy fashion by Artie Mandelberg, a director who like Mike Pavone, is mostly known for his television work. He would later direct another feature for WWE Studios, Bending the Rules (2012).
Before Mike Pavone’s departure from WWE Studios, he would direct another feature for the company, action comedy The Reunion (2011). The Reunion is marginally better than the likes of Knucklehead and The Chaperone, with there at least being elements included to keep WWE fans happy.
The Reunion marked the 4th film for the company where he was the lead actor. It would also mark his last to date, although he would return to do voice over work on some of the company’s animated features.
Billed as an action comedy, The Reunion is surprisingly light on action scenes, with only the briefest of skirmishes during the film. Most of the run time is taken up with the three main characters played by John Cena, Ethan Embry and Boyd Holbrook, bickering whilst trying to capture someone who has violated their parole. Through this they get involved in a kidnapping scheme masterminded by a deadly drug lord.
The three leads work well together considering the material they are given. They are given able support by Amy Smart as their estranged sister, but her screen time is limited. The underrated Jack Conley plays one of the films main villain’s, who goes up against Cena in a brief fight scene.
Best of all is Gregg Henry, who is able to brighten up most films he appears in, even with the limited screen time he is afforded here.
As usual, the film received negative reviews, with some based on the lack of action. This is more the problem of the advertising campaign than the film. As long as the viewer doesn’t expect an action movie, they should at least find some enjoyment from The Reunion.
Staying in comedy mode for the next movie, Bending the Rules gave another WWE Superstar the chance of playing leading man. This time it was the turn of Adam Copeland A.K.A. Edge. Unfortunately, his first starring role was in an inept comedy with very little in the way of action.
If nothing else, it showed that Copeland has a likeable screen presence, something that was better utilised by his recurring role on the television series Haven (2011). Here he is partnered up with a sickly looking Jamie Kennedy, who makes for an extremely annoying sidekick.
Faring slightly better than Kennedy are Jennifer Esposito and Alicia Witt who have supporting roles, but only appear in the film intermittingly.
Like The Reunion before it, Bending the Rules opened to bad reviews, but this time most of them were correct in their estimation, with it being another disappointing venture for WWE Studios.
Like his last film for WWE Studios, Inside Out, director Artie Mandelberg shoots in a simple fashion, with nothing to set this apart from similar fare. The film was given a brief cinema release in America but was released straight to DVD elsewhere.
Rounding out 2012, WWE Studios would release a couple of horror films. The first was The Day (2012), a post apocalyptic film from director Douglas Aarniokoski. WWE Studios had nothing to do with the production, with them only being the distributors of the film.
However, their other horror release of the year was one of the company’s own productions. Barricade (2012) is noteworthy as being the first film from WWE Studios to not feature a wrestler from WWE in any shape or form.
Barricade is psychological horror film, based around a father (Eric McCormack), who decides to take his family to a remote log cabin. When there they start to encounter strange occurrences, but it is unclear if these are real or all in their head.
Barricade would be another disappointment from WWE Studios, with it falling extremely short of expectations. The film was directed by Andrew Currie had had previously helmed the enjoyable horror comedy Fido (2006), which starred Billy Connolly as a boys pet zombie.
The skill shown in the director’s previous film is seemingly absent, with a slow pace and poor production values not helping matters. Considering an extremely short running time, with the film coming in at around the 75 minutes mark sans credit, the film manages to drag, feeling longer than it actually is.
This is a shame as leading actor Eric McCormack gives an especially good performance, and does well with the admittedly poor material.
The Company would return to their bread and butter of action with their next film, the third part of the Marine franchise. The Marine 3: Homefront (2013) was another in the company’s line of DTV sequels, but made for an enjoyable simple action movie that is only let down when compared to the second film in the franchise.
This time round it was the turn of WWE Wrestler Mike “the Miz” Mezanin to take the lead role, and he doesn’t disappoint, with him faring better as a lead action star than some of his more famous wrestling colleagues.
Like the sequel, this third entry is an in name only sequel. Apparently the studio originally looked to wrestler Bob Holly to take the lead role, but when a neck injury made this impossible, it was decided that wrestler Randy Orton would star.
Orton’s casting was soon changed to The Miz, as due to Orton’s bad conduct discharge from the Marines it was felt his casting as a Marine would be in bad taste.
The plot of the film is only passable, but gets the job done, giving The Miz a chance to spring into action as well as giving lead bad guy Neal McDonough a better motivation for his actions than most action movies.
Scott Wiper takes the directing chair, making this his second film for WWE Studios after The Condemned. He takes a less flashy approach to The Marine 3: Homefront, with the small budget probably being a contributing factor for this.
The action is mostly grounded in reality and small scale, with it mainly being made up off the odd shoot out and fight scene. A highlight of the film is The Miz’s fight with the late Darren Shahlavi, which is short but well-choreographed.
The other standout of the supporting cast is Michael Eklund, no stranger to a WWE production. He had previously appeared the year before in The Day along with Marine 3: Homefront co-star Ashley Bell. He would go on to act in The Call (2013), See No Evil 2 (2014) and Vendetta.
Interestingly Eklund has another wrestling themed film coming up, comedy Choke Slam (2017), which features a role from wrestling legend Mick Foley, although the film shares no association with WWE Studios.
Although the company was focusing more on the DTV market at this point, 2013 still had three of the company’s film’s gracing cinema screens, even if their releases were limited.
The first of these was co-production Dead Man Down (2013), coming only a few days after the DVD release of The Marine 3: Homefront.
Like some of WWE’s more high-brow fare, Dead Man Down didn’t have a wrestler in a main role, having Colin Farrell as the lead, with Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper and Terrance Howard in support. There is a small part for wrestler Wade Barrett, but he doesn’t get a chance to do much other than look imposing
The film is ably directed by Niels Arden Oplev, giving the film a professional sheen and handling the action scenes well, but it must be admitted that the pace does lag in the middle of the film.
Dead Man Down marked the first time Oplev had worked with actress Noomi Rapace since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). Rapace’s role here isn’t even close to being as memorable as her role in that film, but she is still good in the part, with her character being suitably damaged and giving her something to work with other than being the usual damsel in distress.
Farrell makes for an agreeable anti-hero, with his character being just as damaged as Rapace’s. He shares a number of scenes with Howard and Cooper, who like Farrell are both good in their roles even if they are underwritten.
Not surprisingly, Dead Man Down opened to poor reviews, mostly complaining about the slower pace of the film. This is perhaps a valid point, as the pace does unfortunately lag in the film, but not to the point that the film is a complete failure.
The company’s next co-production, The Call (2013) is a tense thriller focusing on the attempts of 911 operator Halle Berry to rescue young Abigail Breslin, who has been kidnapped.
Halle Berry’s role may not be on par with her Oscar winning work in Monsters Ball (2001), but awarded the actress one of her better recent parts, with her operator going beyond the call of duty to save the kidnapped girl.
Abigail Breslin manages to make an impression, some going when she spends the majority of the film in the boot of a car. The two leads are supported by the likes of Morris Chestnut, Michael Imperoli and best of all Michael Eklund, playing the sadistic kidnapper.
Like Dead Man Down, The Call only features a small appearance from one of the company’s wrestlers, this time being David Otunga, who has a small role as a police officer assisting with the search for Breslin
Director Brad Anderson keeps the pace tight, and excellently builds the tension throughout. The film may not live up to the standards of some of the directors previous cinematic output such as Session 9 (2001) and The Machinist (2004), but gave him a chance to return to cinema screens after mostly working in television.
For a change, The Call was mostly given good reviews, with critics recognising it as an enjoyable B movie with the actors on top form.
The Call would turn out to be WWE Studios most financially successful film at the time, surprising considering that lead actress Halle Berry more recent films had been unsuccessful and the fact that The Call was given an R rating.