Film Review – The Guilty (2021)

Title – The Guilty (2021) 

Director – Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) 

Cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, (voices of) Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke

Plot – Awaiting a trial that will decide his future in the police force, demoted officer Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) is manning a 911 call-line when he takes a call from a distressed women who has been kidnapped by her violent ex-partner with the race on for Baylor to find her and save her and himself in the process. 

“Broken people save broken people” 

Review by Eddie on 08/10/2021

Before you spend (waste) anymore time here reading this review, my strong suggestion is that if you haven’t already go track down a copy of the 2018 award winning Denmark original of which this Hollywood remake is derived from, as when you compare the two efforts that are quite similar yet somehow very different in effectiveness, the original tale of a disgraced police officer handling a very tricky call over a dispatch line his been posted too is far and away the more gripping thriller. 

Re-teaming with his Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua and working off a script that includes work done by True Detective screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto, Hollywood star Jake Gyllenhaal is front and center here as the under duress and demoted Joe Baylor, who during a late shift on the phone lines in the midst of a citywide fire emergency takes a call from a distressed citizen who has been kidnapped by her violent ex-partner, with Joe racing the clock (and his own thoughts) too try and figure out how he can uncover the truth and whereabouts of the in danger caller. 

Set entirely within the confines of Joe’s police office building, just as the original film was confined to a sole location, The Guilty is going to bore those who grow easily tired of dialogue driven thrillers and features that live and die entirely off the performance of one key actor and sadly unlike the original Denmark feature Gyllenhaal’s significant talents and Fuqua’s pedestrian direction (that was delivered via remote functions due to Covid-19 protocols) aren’t enough to carry the film through its rough patches as we begin to understand more about the crime being committed and Baylor’s troubled past. 

Not seen as regularly as he once was during in incredible decade stretch of films that included key performances in the likes of Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, Nightcrawler, Prisoners and Zodiac, it’s good to see the likable Gyllenhaal back in a leading role but when weighed up against his best turns, his performance here as the twitchy and tormented Baylor isn’t one of his finest pieces of work, with his inability to avoid overacting in key moments taking us away from a story that at its core is gripping and engrossing but is here delivered without the heart and soul that would’ve made it an above average Netflix original. 

Delivered in lots of manners like for like to the 2018 Denmark film, The Guilty goes to show once more that good film’s can’t be remade as easily as placing some new actors and talent in the mix to recreate the magic and while this is far from a terrible film, there’s little in this feature to write home about as it’s likely to get lost in the impending release avalanche heading our way at the end of 2021. 

Final Say – 

Lacking the spark of the original and the taut delivery that made it such a white knuckle watch, The Guilty can’t be saved by the usually reliable Jake Gyllenhaal who tries his best but fails to hit the mark in this talk driven thriller. 

2 1/2 inhalers out of 5

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