Relying heavily on dialogue, suspense, and Jake Gyllenhaal's acting, Antoine Fuqua's The Guilty proves to be an immersive experience.
As a fan of the lead actor and an admirer of the director's work, I expected something worthy of my time and neither of them disappointed me.
The Guilty is a well-made cerebral thriller from Netflix, one that anchors Gyllenhaal's amazing talent as an actor, uses a gripping and emotional story to make you forget that it all takes place in a large room most of the time.
Gyllenhaal is LAPD officer Joe Baylor, a man with anger issues working the night shift at a 911 center in the aftermath of an inferno raging through a major part of the city.
Joe's day (and life) is altered when he receives a distress call from a woman named Emily who is forcefully taken away from her two little kids by her husband.
As the protagonist delves deeper into the lives of Emily, her husband, and their children, a heinous crime committed reveals itself and as the stakes become higher, he must rely on his wits, will, and skills as a police officer to prevent Emily's travails from escalating into a tragedy with long-lasting consequences.
In involving himself with the case, Joe rises above his weaknesses, undergoes a catharsis, and becomes a far better man than he was before the call changed his life forever.
Borrowing from previous films like Phone Booth and Source Code (in which Gyllenhaal also stars) in terms of suspenseful elements, The Guilty adds a unique spin to a story that will take viewers on an emotional roller coaster by the time it reaches its conclusion.
But no matter how good a story, if the lead star fails, then it is as good as a failure in its entirety. In that regard, this movie triumphs and that is thanks to an actor who has the ability to make you believe he is whoever he wants you to believe he is.
Never one to leave any stone unturned, Gyllenhaal gives a rousing performance as the flawed hero whose personal struggles take a backseat when he finds himself in a position to change the lives of four individuals when the need arises. His methods are questionable but his intentions and motivations are clearly understood and you have no choice but to remain at the edge of your seat and pray he succeeds.
There isn't much to say in terms of cinematography; the plot and setting restrict the camera shots and angles to a fixed locale. Knowing this, the director steadily switches between them and engaging dialogue with the expected intrigue. Add a talented actor to the mix and you have a remarkable movie experience.
Watching The Guilty proved to be cathartic for me and a statement made by a supporting character seems to stick in my head. It's this: "Broken people save broken people." I guess that will be better understood after fans have seen the movie.
Antoine Fuqua's last film Infinite was a major disappointment. This one, however, is the exact opposite. It's one I highly recommend for those who like me love a good story.
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