Jake Gyllenhaal reunites with his Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua for Netflix’s mystery drama, The Guilty. The film is a remake of a same-titled 2018 Danish Oscar Nominee. Taking place over a single morning at a 911 dispatch call center, The Guilty follows ill-reputed L.A. police officer Joe Baylor recently assigned to desk duty answering 911 calls amid misconduct charges.
The moment we meet Joe, it's clear that he's not one for desk duty, and his personal life is also in shambles. Outside the city of Angels, thick smoke from wildfires overtakes the city, which adds to the tension of an already stressful situation. In addition, Joe is trying to dodge phone calls from a nosy reporter (Edi Patterson) and repair his relationship with his estranged wife (Gillian Zinser)
As Joe is nearing the end of his shift, he receives a phone call from a woman named Emily Lighton (Riley Keough). Emily appears to be in grave danger and informs Joe that her ex-husband Henry Fisher (Peter Sarsgaard) has abducted her. However, things are never truly as they appear, and as layers peel back, Joe will discover that facing his truth is the only way out.
I hadn’t seen the original version of The Guilty, so I hit play on the remake primarily as a fan of the film's star and its director. Nic Pizzolatto, who collaborated with the director on another remake (2016's The Magnificent Seven), pens a nail biter of a script that never overstays its welcome throughout its quick 91-minute run time. That said, I want to tell viewers that the film takes place in a single location. In addition, besides Jake Gyllenhaal, there are only two other on-screen performances, Christina Vidal and Adrien Martinez, as co-workers of Joe's.
Antoine Fuqua directed the film over eleven days, and for the most part, he succeeded. Jake Gyllenhaal and Fuqua solidified their chemistry with the vastly underrated Southpaw and it carries over here. Gyllenhaal showcases why he's one of the best actors of his generation with a great performance as a broken man. While Fuqua, wisely uses the editing skills of Jason Ballantine to place us right into the psyche of Joe the moment we hear the voice of our pivotal character, Emily Lighton. Riley Keough is fresh off her breakthrough performance in this past summer's Zola and is just as good here. I had no idea Keough portrayed Emily until I read the closing credits.
Regarding the remaining voice cast, Eli Goree, Paul Dano, Ethan Hawke, Beau Knapp, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph are all on hand to showcase the power of voice and how their characters connect to Gyllenhaal’s, Joe. The Guilty isn't for all tastes, and I'm sure that the original version, which I do plan to seek out at some point, is better. However, those who enjoy the acting talents of Jake Gyllenhaal should check the film out.
Final Grade: B
The Guilty is available to stream tomorrow on Netflix at www.netflix.com/TheGuilty