Review: The Guilty (2021)

Netflix

The quality is even with the Danish original (its mawkishness just easier to hide with subtitles) and Jake Gyllenhaal really does give it his all, but the film can’t sustain putting the audience in Joe’s (Gyllenhaal) shoes. The film does well at veering between capturing Joe’s blatantly disrespectful entitlement and his compassion for those cases he deems worth his time. But the job of a dispatcher isn’t to make value judgements, it’s only to send particular services to a particular incident. That’s all. A wildfire rages near city limits and the call center is slammed with calls from frantic onlookers. Joe feeling helpless isn’t unrelatable when his prior position as a police officer meant he was in control of everything and everyone. That Joe is temporarily reassigned to dispatch draws questions, but Antoine Fuqua isn’t interested in answering those yet. Then he receives a call from a woman intimating that she’s been abducted, then The Guilty ratchets up the tension. The camera is never very far from Gyllenhaal’s haggard face as he tries to insert himself into the kidnapping as much as possible. Yet the irony of the situation is that in trying to manage the outcome, he can only exacerbate it. With only the call center to capture onscreen, Gyllenhaal must command attention, and he does. Not a stranger to intense characters, Joe Baylor relies on all of Gyllenhaal’s physicality to succeed. His facial expressions and throbbing veins a window into a desperate man who will do anything to help, but only condemns those involved to tragedy in the process. The ending will test your sense of indignation in today’s hot political climate, but if chamber-piece-thrillers are your thing, The Guilty is it.

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Film critic w/ bylines in ThatShelf, Birth.Movies.Death, Little White Lies, ScreenCrush, and Movie Mezzanine (rip). LVFCS Member. Follow me at @thebiggsscreen

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Colin Biggs

Colin Biggs

Film critic w/ bylines in ThatShelf, Birth.Movies.Death, Little White Lies, ScreenCrush, and Movie Mezzanine (rip). LVFCS Member. Follow me at @thebiggsscreen

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