The Guilty (2021) is a remake of the 2018 Danish real-time thriller which was very good, but the action moves to California, where once on-the-beat cop Joe Baylor (Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler) has been demoted to the role of a 911 operator.
Given Gyllenhaal’s varied body of work, the last thing I’d expect him to be involved in is a remake, so prior to watching this, I thought I’d like to think he’s going to put his own stamp on it. At the time of watching this, it’s around two-and-a-half years since I saw the original movie, so I came to the storyline reasonably fresh, without looking up the ins and outs of what happened in the original.
After a few comparatively inconsequential calls, he takes one from Emily (Riley Keough – The House That Jack Built), a young woman who’s been kidnapped and is unable to speak freely in the car. The more it goes on, the deeper the story gets, twisting and turning at times; and if you want someone who’s good at angst, Gyllenhaal is a good bet. His character gets very hot-headed for the majority of the time, but he’s got his own demons, and is hoping to get back on the streets soon following an upcoming court case.
The voice cast includes Ethan Hawke as long-time colleague, Sgt. Bill Miller, Peter Sarsgaard as Emily’s husband, Henry, and Paul Dano as one of the callers, Matthew Fontenot.
Along the way, we also see Joe talking to Emily’s six-year-old daughter, Abby – who’s home alone with her younger brother, promising them both that their mother will come home, even though you shouldn’t really be making promises that are outside your control. But then… hot-headed.
Due to the way it’s directed with tight shots, it’s a serviceable remake; and on the one hand, if you’re going to make a film during lockdown, this is a good one to make, since most of the time, Joe is on his own, on camera, while the majority of the rest of the cast are voices on the end of the line.
Plus, this film is just 90 minutes long. Can we have more like this, please? I’m sick of films running around the two-hour mark that have no reason to do so, and don’t get me started on the likes of No Time To Die, which is almost THREE HOURS LONG! Both Skyfall and Spectre were overall and tedious, so I’m really not looking forward to Daniel Craig’s final outing.
As I mentioned in my review of the original film, in reality, if you’re working in a call centre and you take a very difficult call, and you can’t break off from it, you should alert a colleague, and especially a team leader if you can. They are there to help you, and you shouldn’t try and take it on, all on your own, if you are not comfortable in doing so.
This version doesn’t divert from what we’ve seen before, from what I remember. And when it comes to making a film set in a confined environment, where only one person is seen onscreen (for the majority of the time, in this case), it’s a rare thing, but was done brilliantly well with Tom Hardy in Locke.
Thanks to our friends at Netflix for the screener prior to release.
The Guilty (2021) is on Netflix from Friday September 24th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 90 minutes
Release date: September 24th 2021
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Producers: Antoine Fuqua, Scott Greenberg, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Haring, David Litvak, Michel Litvak, Riva Marker, Svetlana Metkina, Kat Samick, Gary Michael Walters
Screenplay: Nic Pizzolatto
Original Screenplay: Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
Music: Marcelo Zarvos
Joe Baylor: Jake Gyllenhaal
Emily Lighton (voice): Riley Keough
Henry Fisher (voice): Peter Sarsgaard
Sgt. Denise Wade: Christina Vidal Mitchell
Rick: Eli Goree
Sgt. Bill Miller (voice): Ethan Hawke
CHP Dispatcher (voice): Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Abby (voice): Christiana Montoya
Tim Gerachi: David Castañeda
Manny: Adrian Martinez
Scott: Oscar Balderrama
Riva: Becky Wu
Marion: Bret Eric Porter
Gary: Maurice Webster
Dru Nashe (voice): Beau Knapp
Katherine Harbor (voice): Edi Patterson
Matthew Fontenot (voice): Paul Dano
Jess Baylor (voice): Gillian Zinser
CHP Patrolman Rodriguez (voice): Terence J Rotolo
Nightclub Caller (voice): Bill Burr
Crashed Cyclist (voice): Dillon Lane
House on Fire Caller (voice): Marlene Forte
Rodriguez’s Partner (voice): Jaime FitzSimons
LA Times Operator (voice): Aileen Burdock
911 Operator (voice): Jonathan Hunt
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.