Photo By: Noah Nickel via Netflix
Netflix’s newest thriller movie The Guilty stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a 911 operator with a troubled past who receives a cryptic call. Despite the intriguing premise, this remake fails to match the thrill and suspense that the original movie delivered three years ago.
Released on Oct. 1, the film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Riley Keough, and Ethan Hawke, among others and generally stays very faithful to the 2018 Danish film of the same name it’s remaking. However, it does not capture the same essence, demonstrating once again that foreign movie hits don’t need to be remade, as subtitles can go a long way.
Shot in only 11 days, The Guilty is set almost entirely in a single location; at a 911 communications centre. Movies that are set in a single location tend to have captivating dialogue, but The Guilty does not deliver on that. The whole plot unravels through a series of phone calls, but seeing only one perspective almost makes the whole thing feel like a monologue. Keough and Hawke voiced some of the calls, but it is disappointing not seeing them on screen.
The audience follows Joe (played by Gyllenhaal) who is a police officer who was temporarily placed on answering duty due to a mysterious event that is not revealed until the end. The movie has a running time of only 90 minutes, so it has a breakneck pace. In the first 10 minutes, Joe receives a call from a woman who speaks to him as if he was her daughter; Joe then picks up that her messages have a different meaning and that she has been kidnapped.
The build-up started off strong, but then the movie gets too slow for its own good. Not to mention that by the time it reaches the climax, the plot twist was entirely predictable. When a movie is so linear, it is easier to see where it is heading. It actively tried to throw myself into the movie and feel suspenseful, but all of that would fade quickly.
It is curious to imagine how this movie would have been different if it hadn’t focused so much on big-name actors. That is not to say Gyllenhaal’s performance was bad, but compared to his other movies this feels like his weakest one.
One cliché that ruins the movie is the poor way in which mental illness is portrayed. Judging a book by its cover is one big factor in this movie and it does not play out well. Not to blame the protagonist, but the movie portraying mentally ill people as dangerous is inaccurate.
After the audience learns about Joe’s past, one wonders why he was even allowed to work with such a big stressor on his back. In addition to his problems at home, it is clear how much this affected him at work, leading to his impulse and obsession with this case.
The Guilty earns only two stars for Gyllenhaal’s performance and its impressive production timeline, but if anyone wants to watch a man sit in front of a computer and unravel a mystery then you would be better to watch Searching. Don’t ruin your image of Gyllenhaal by watching this movie, he has many better films to watch.