April 14, 2024

THE GUILTY (2021) – Powerhouse performance from Jake Gyllenhaal

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

If you don’t mind watching and listening to someone talking on the phone for one and a half hours in real time, then this is the film for you. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Joe, a demoted cop waiting for a court judgement on something he had done, reassigned to handle 911 calls. The Guilty takes place in the 911 call centre and follows what happens when Joe takes an emergency distress call from what appears to be a lady who is abducted. We follow Joe as he makes multiple calls to try a save the woman in a race against time scenario.

The Guilty is actually a Hollywood remake of a Denmark movie of the same title made in 2018. Since I have not seen the original movie, which was very well received, I am unable to make any form of comparisons. No matter as The Guilty comes across as something very original, and unexpectedly exciting without the need to actually show the audience what is happening since all we get to witness is what transpire over the telephone conversations with Joe. The Guilty is the sort of movie that walks on a fine line on whether it succeed in being an interesting watch or not. Whether it works or not depends heavily on the script and sole performance of the main actor.

Director Antoine Fuqua who is known more for his work in action oriented crime thrillers like Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer, takes a huge step back from his comfort zone by crafting a smaller scale type of movie that is confined to just one location and dominated by the presence of the main character. He is very fortunate to have a well written tight script plus the very talented Jake Gyllenhaal who gave a convincing standout performance. Making a movie interesting as it runs on real time under such constraints is akin to making a movie run like one long take. Like all good movies, a satisfactory ending that reveals some sort of surprise while tying up all loose ends is vital. Here, Jake Gyllenhaal single handedly takes us on a roller coaster emotional ride as the intensity and urgency of the situation escalates to its conclusion.

The Guilty is nothing like most of the stuff that is out there today and dares to take a challenge to make something unique in a different style. It is an hour and a half well spent and not something you will easily forget after the credits roll.

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