The Guilty (2021)

The Guilty is an English-language remake of the 2018 Danish film by the same name, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Joe Baylor, a demoted officer on dispatch duty who receives a disturbing emergency call from a kidnapped woman. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Guilty…

Pros: Firstly, Jake Gyllenhaal can certainly command a scene. In fact, aside from B-roll, Gyllenhaal is prominently featured in every scene. The movie hinges on his performance and he sells his character’s work ethic and flaws convincingly. Secondly, and possibly divisively, is the bold direction from Antoine Fuqua. Instead of showing us the other side of dispatch calls, Fuqua keeps the camera fixed on Gyllenhaal and his reactions to the distress and limited information he receives. Lastly is the theme highlighting the value and importance of remaining calm in even the most stressful situations.

Cons: As much as I enjoy watching Gyllenhaal shout into his headset and phone for an hour and a half, it’s apparent this movie had a small budget. However, the limited production value doesn’t detract from the story nearly as much as Joe’s impending court case does. We get breadcrumbs throughout, but by the end we learn his demotion is the result of an officer involved shooting. The trial is wholly unrelated to the emergency call the day before, yet the ending tries to connect the two by making his last dispatch experience the reason he pleads guilty. It’s the right thing to do, but after watching his impatience and anger constantly get the better of him, I’m not sure he is so easily redeemed.

I give The Guilty a B. It’s a thrilling drama on a sparse budget, but if you’re not a fan of Gyllenhaal, this is not the movie for you! His performance is the reason to watch and I think he does a great job. Happy Watching!





  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Length
  • Characters
  • Production Value
  • Plot

Where to Watch

“Broken people sabe broken people.”

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