The Guilty: A Jake Gyllenhaal Show

The Stream: A little repetitive as the story progresses

The Big Screen: A strong performance by Jake Gyllenhaal

The Final Bill: A fast-paced, taut thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Nic Pizzolatto
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: R (Strong language throughout)
Runtime: 1 hour 25 minutes
Production Companies: Amet Entertainment, Bold Films, Endeavor Content, Fuqua Films, Nine Stories Productions
Platform: Netflix released October 1, 2021

In The Guilty, which premiered on Netflix this weekend, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a police officer, who has been reassigned to a call dispatch desk. He becomes deeply invested in an emergency call from a kidnapped woman and we watch as it unfolds. The majority of the movie is just Gyllenhaal and voices on the other end of his telephone. Yes, The Guilty is the latest entry in that classic subgenre of thrillers when a dude is alone in a confined space communicating only by telephone. My favorite of those films is Phone Booth, and here’s how The Guilty stacks up.

If The Guilty is going to be entertaining, then Gyllenhaal has to knock it out of the park and it has to be tense. Antoine Fuqua has directed Gyllenhaal to a dynamic performance and created an edge-of-your-seat thriller – for the most part. I’d say that Gyllenhaal does a great job of portraying this troubled police officer who can’t observe necessary professional boundaries. Gyllenhaal builds in intensity as the story unfolds and the viewer goes along with him primarily because Jake is just so compelling. It seems like everything can go wrong at any minute and Gyllenhaal’s performance keeps you engrossed. Because the film is solely focused on Gyllenhaal and you only hear the voices of the other actors, it all begins to feel very claustrophobic and taut. Also, due to the film’s sub 90 minute runtime, the pace is relentless. It’s like this emergency is happening in real time, but it does get a little repetitious in the back and forth between telephone calls. That’s a minor quibble because ultimately it’s a necessary evil in order to move the plot forward.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

Ultimately, The Guilty delivers on its promise. It is a thriller that is focused solely on a tense performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. The fast pace of the film and the undercurrent of danger keeps you engrossed for its short runtime. It certainly is enjoyable enough to grab a box of popcorn. Definitely catch this flick on Netflix.