‘The Guilty’ movie review: Jake Gyllenhaal stars in a needless remake

For all who have watched the Danish original or the play, there are no surprises in the Hollywood version on Netflix

Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty brought to mind the Hindi play Kusur, and the delightful documentary on Netflix, The Attack of the Hollywood Clichés. Kusur, because like The Guilty, it is an adaptation of Den Skyldige (2018), a Danish film directed by Gustav Möller; Hollywood Clichés for its comment on the phasing out of the maverick cop. The new landscape with rising intolerance for police brutality has no place for loose cannons such as Dirty Harry or Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon) who took the law into their own hands.

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Den Skyldige tells the story of a Copenhagen policeman who, while awaiting trial for shooting and killing a 19-year-old, is assigned to answering emergency calls. One of the calls he takes is from a woman who talks to him like she is talking to a small child. The policeman figures out that the woman is being held against her will and the reason she cannot talk clearly is probably because her abductor is close by. The Oscar-nominated film follows labyrinthine twists and turns as soul-crushing revelations are made, and victim and villain switch roles in an instant.

For all who have watched the Danish original or the play, there are no surprises in the Hollywood version except for some definite Hollywood-isations. An author-backed role, The Guilty is an actor’s delight. Palekar was brilliant as retired Assistant Police Commissioner Dandavate manning the phones at the police control room one rainy night in Mumbai.

The Guilty

  • Director: Antoine Fuqua
  • Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Christina Vidal
  • Voice cast: Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard, Bill Burr
  • Storyline: As a disgraced police officer tries to help a woman in distress, things start to unravel
  • Run time: 90 minutes

Jake Gyllenhaal as disgraced LAPD officer Joe Baylor pulling the night shift at 911 even as a fire rages in Los Angeles, seems out of sorts. He is either screaming at his colleagues and callers, or screwing his face up for fake tears that refuse to fall. The tight, claustrophobic close-ups only reveal Gyllenhaal’s lovely eyelashes and bulging biceps.

Apart from Christina Vidal and Adrian Martinez who play Joe’s co-workers, the rest of the characters are only voices. The competent voice cast – Riley Keough as Emily, the woman in distress, Peter Sarsgaard as Henry, her ex-husband, Christiana Montoya as Abby, the couple’s daughter, Eli Goree as Rick, Joe’s former partner, Ethan Hawke as Sergeant Bill Miller, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as CHP dispatcher, Paul Dano who calls 911 in the beginning of the film after being robbed and Gillian Zinser as Jess, Joe’s ex-wife, create fully realised portraits.

At 90 minutes, The Guilty moves at a brisk pace and is a fairly engrossing way to spend an evening, especially if there is no way to access the Danish original.

The Guilty is currently streaming on Netflix

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