Transcribed Ep 31: The Guilty (R.2021)

REEL Film Reviewed –  Show Transcript

The Guilty


Welcome to REEL Film Reviewed the show that delivers short spoiler free reviews of films, TV shows, and limited series followed by a deep dive discussion.

Brought to you by your host Kris Chaney, here is REEL Film Reviewed.


Welcome back, everyone.

This episode REEL Film Reviewed The Guilty.

Slightly newer film available on Netflix. It was actually released in theaters and on Netflix on September 1 of this year. That’s interesting. I didn’t know Netflix was showing theater movies, but knowing that, this film may be an example of it’s better to be seen on Netflix as opposed to HBO Max, Peacock or Paramount Plus’ available theater movies. I’m betting independent films released in theaters is what Netflix is able to show.

In this remake, Jake Gyllenhaall plays a disgraced and demoted LAPD cop who is now working as a 911 operator and he receives a call from an abducted woman. 

On paper, this looks good. Out loud, this sounds good. However, on screen, this version was very poorly executed. 

The trailer looked as though it mimicked The Caller Halle Berry’s semi hit thriller a few years ago, but there was obviously a different story here. What I didn’t like was the unrealistic situations. You’ll see what I mean if you watch or if you listen to the discussion later. But there were scenes with Jake that were just absurd, to quote a friend of mine. The mystery of the story was so poorly organized that we gave up caring and trying to figure out what had happened prior to the start of the film. Also known as: Why is Jake demoted at 911 Dispatch? It was stupid.

The weird behavior and dialogue throughout the film by various characters, mainly Jake’s, because he was on screen the most. Possibly another mistake, some people can handle being the main person on screen and not have anyone to play off but Jake had a phone and he was lame. Jake Gyllenhaal takes up the majority of the screen time as far as the cast goes. 

As I mentioned, there were some other notable appearances by Peter Sarsgaard, Christina Vidal, Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano. I honestly feel Peter was in this just because he’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s brother in law, Maggie probably made him do it.

Antoine Fuqua, the director and Jake have done a great project together in the past. They did Southpaw in 2015, which Jake played a professional left handed boxer, and I loved that film that was very well done, and I enjoyed that. I don’t want to discuss the specific roles of each person to avoid spoilers, but I’ll say that it was very unnecessary for there to be this kind of high profile cast. It seems to be a bit expensive for their roles in this. I’ll go into that a little bit deeper in the discussion later. 

Coming to the REEL views, the REEL views have been reworked a little bit. I’m now going to be rating on a scale of up to ten stars. I won’t do halves anymore. It will be all solid numbers. From now on. 

I reworked the ratings for a few reasons, but mainly because I wanted to add an additional piece for the discussion. I will give my rating and then check to see what Hollywood gave it so I will compare my opinion with Hollywood’s, but I won’t do that until after I’d given my REEL view and then I do the discussion and I’ll take a look and see what it says. 

So my REEL view on The Guilty. Five out of ten stars. 

The story may have been better in the original. In fact, I’ve been told that and it does sound like a great story, but this film particularly did not display that at all. It was a scattered mess delivering pieces of information in between random rants Jake had as an active police officer and frankly it made him look insane. 

There was a lot going on in it and they didn’t really do a very good job of giving us a reason why we should care and also delivered the story in piece form and then gave us a crumb at the end. So it wasn’t really a full delivery and the technical aspects.

The Guilty is rated R and has a run time of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It was directed by Antoine Fuqua, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Christina Vidal, Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano. It is viewable on Netflix and it is no longer in theaters. 

All right, here is the Spoiler alert warning. Those new to REEL Film Reviewed after this point, I will discuss this review further, potentially and likely reviewing Spoilers. 

Thank you for listening to the Spoiler free review. I’ll be back after a word about my sponsors.


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REEL View Hollywood comparison

Welcome back, everyone. Let’s dive into the REEL View Hollywood comparison. 

The REEL view was five out of ten stars, and Hollywood said 6.3 out of ten. 

Not bad, just about on par. They were being generous looking at just kind of the basic plotline recap. It was based on Danish foreign film The Guilty, that was released in 2018, which can be viewed on Hulu and is also available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video. I think it’s only about $2.99. Might be worth watching that instead. 

In fact, one of the listeners that voted on this poll said that he voted The Guilty because he voted for the original and he felt kind of offended that they felt the need to remake it. And when I did some research because at that comment, I didn’t know that this was a remake. Normally I’m pretty good about that, but this was a little bit of a–I don’t want to say it was less known. I guess this one just didn’t fall on my radar. I’ll just admit that it didn’t fall on my radar until it got made in the States, which sometimes is a good thing. 

I’m usually in favor of things that bring attention to other films. I was a huge fan of Let the Right One In and the United States obviously remade that and it was called Let Me In. And I remember when I first got wind that they were going to be making that–and I had a feeling because it was a great film and it was a Swedish film that it might be something that somebody in the US would really dig. And of course they made it and it was a big hit. And I at first wasn’t really that excited for it because I had watched the three Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Swedish films and those were fantastic. Noomi Rapace was wonderful in it. It was just a wonderful collection of actors and actresses as well as a fantastic story. 

The books were–I didn’t read the books, but I know the books were a big famous thing and everybody was reading them for a while. Stieg Larsson’s infamous little three book series. It was pretty famous for a little while. When those movies started coming out, I had already gotten into Swedish foreign films just from watching those. So I kind of went on a little binge and watched as many of them as I could find. And so that’s when I ran into Let the Right One In and really loved that story. 

So the only thing that saved the US version for me was Chloë Moretz because she just ended up falling on my: “I will watch anything that she does” after 500 days of summer because she’s just such a dynamic actress and I felt that her presence almost commanded more than Dakota Fanning at such a young age. So I really loved Chloë Moretz and I love everything pretty much that she’s done and I was happy that they chose her for that. And then when they remade Carrie, they also chose her for that and I’m like; Well, as long as you keep choosing Chloe, I’ll keep watching these remakes, and they’re going to keep hitting for me because I have enjoyed all of those. 

But anyways, getting back to The Guilty, it does make me think that the original story was a lot better because this was just a horrible regurgitation of that story. Basic plotline is Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, he plays Joe, clearly a disgraced and demoted police officer for LAPD. He’s now working as a, it says 911 dispatch, but he transfers and he doesn’t really dispatch anything. Or I mean, he does kind of so I don’t know if there’s actually a difference between a 911 operator and a 911 dispatch. So anybody that works in the field definitely let me know, comment or send me a message so that I’m aware because I’m kind of curious on if there’s a little bit of a difference. I’ve had a couple of friends that have worked in that field, but I’ve always been a little bit curious about that kind of line of work. 

Now this was also–I mentioned in the spoiler free review about the movie The Caller, which was Halle Berry playing a 911 operator who gets like an abduction type call and kind of works through that. That was a pretty good movie. I remember going into that with pretty low expectations, but it ended up being a pretty decent film. Going into The Guilty, I wasn’t sure what the purpose was, and it was actually a friend of mine who watched it and was really wanting me to watch it. And it was a little bit of a hit for a little while on Netflix. But I always pay attention to the films that are on the top ten list and how long they sit on the top ten list. This was on the top ten list for about maybe a week, I think maybe five to seven days is when it was on there.

So what that is is the top ten list is kind of based off of how many people are watching it and so I don’t usually watch anything that pops up there right away unless I’ve already been aware of it, and I wanted to see it but I hadn’t heard anything about The Guilty until it popped up on the top ten list. It wasn’t up there for very long that was kind of my first inclination that it wasn’t that great, because if it stays up there, that means everybody that’s watched it is telling their friends, you got to watch this. It’s really good. It’s got a good word of mouth feed, and that’s why I like Netflix’s top ten because it lets me know what’s being talked about in terms of bad or good and The Guilty was quickly removed from that list. 

Looking at the film, I can definitely understand why. It had some plot line holes, Joe in his disgracement is clearly not enjoying life. He’s obviously got an asthma problem, but there was fires, so I think that may have been what they were trying to reference. I don’t know that… we never really got anything about why he had these really bad–Seems like he had bad asthma attacks, but then they seemed almost more like anxiety attacks. I’m not really sure, they never really dove too much into Joe’s history and his background and what had happened that brought him here. So we don’t really know too much about him other than the fact that he’s estranged from his wife and his daughter. 

He basically is miserable, he’s working this 911 job, he talks to a couple of different people that he interacts with, and they tell him, oh, yeah, no worries after tomorrow, you’ll be back on the force. You’ll be back out on the street, things like that so a couple of different characters mentioned that to him in their interactions, and he kind of just looks like he’s on a hamster wheel. He’s just bored. He’s ready to get back out to the street but there’s obviously something going on tomorrow and something that’s preventing him from doing that. And then we learn that it’s because he got into some sort of incident and there was a partner of his or some other colleague of his that was going to testify and basically in his favor but there was a little bit more to the story that took some time for us to actually learn. And that was part of my problem was we had Joe in this 911 operator situation. 

Clearly, he had a whole story and background and situations going on with him but then he takes this 911 call and kind of gets immersed in it. So you don’t really know if it’s a serious situation or if it’s a situation that he’s making up in his mind because people are looking at him weird and it was just bizarre. The behavior that he was displaying in the way that people were reacting to it made it seem like he had had a bad blowout or a mental breakdown or of some sort. And it didn’t sound like that’s what happened when we finally learned what ended up happening, which was that he had–Well, I’ll get into that in a second. 

So the 911 call comes through. It’s a woman who is distressed, and she’s basically making a 911 call without the person that she’s with realizing that she’s making the 911 call and he begins to realize this, begins to ask her certain questions to kind of identify the danger that she’s in. And he becomes kind of panicked and I’m thinking, this is because he had a wife and he had a daughter, and this woman had a daughter, she had been abducted, and he was kind of investigating a little bit. 

He called her house after they got disconnected, he talked to her daughter. She was fairly young. I think she was six or so, and she was home by herself. As he begins to piece this story together, which was quite reaching. I don’t know how he was able to figure out what he was able to figure out in the short amount of time that he did it, but he basically kind of used the 911 system. The phone came from her and was registered to her and then he kind of traced that to her house and sent units over to her house and then sent units over to his house.

It just gets a little wild, and there’s a lot of different pieces to it that we’re watching. He first sends units to try and find the car, they pull a car over, it’s the wrong car, and there’s a lot of uncertainty in how they’re trying to pursue this. And then he somehow learns that this woman was a patient in the psychiatric hospital, and they thought that she had killed their son. He took her away because she had all these mental issues. They had all these problems, and the story just got really wild. It fell apart for me. I didn’t care at that point. 

It was supposed to be a twist. We’re presumed to think that this woman was abducted by her ex husband, and he killed one of their children, which was a young boy, which is a baby. And they had a six year old daughter and he left them in the house and took her and they were out driving somewhere. She pulls the emergency brake and then ends up wandering around on the freeway overpass and then Jake Gyllenhaal pleads with her to come down off of the overpass and then admits that he killed a 19 year old boy because he was angry.

He had done something bad and so it was kind of like a retaliation thing and that’s it, he gets a call later that she came down over the overpass. She was okay. I guess after he had admitted all of that to her, they were talking about the young son and stating that he was in the hospital, that he was recovering, and he was kind of shocked. He was like, what? And she’s like, yeah, he’s okay. So he thought he had been killed, but he actually ended up being okay. So that’s the other part. 

We don’t know how long this baby was bleeding or where he was bleeding. When he learned what had happened, the mother, the woman that he was speaking to, Emily. As he was speaking to her, she’s the one that states that he had snakes in his stomach and she took him out. So we don’t know what she did. She took a knife and stabbed him? We don’t know. That was never said, we never saw anything. And I think the reason why we didn’t see any of the action was kind of to put the audience in the same type of box that Jake Gyllenhaal was in by being a 911 dispatch, but being a police officer previously out on the street and being unable to respond. If that was the message, they failed at it because it was so bad we didn’t care about any of the action that was going on.

It took me two times to watch this movie the first time I thought I had fallen asleep, but that’s not what ended up happening. I stopped paying attention at about the same point that I stopped paying attention at this one and I had to stop and go back and then when I did go back, I was like, no, I didn’t miss anything. It’s just bad. I continued watching it, and I was kind of going back and forth, just like looking down at my phone and looking back at the screen following the action. It was wild and stupid, really really stupid. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film with such a great concept be executed so dumb. It just didn’t make any sense and I couldn’t tell if it was shot stupid or if it was edited or cut together poorly. 

Whatever jumbled mess it was supposed to be, they cut out pretty much everything that made it make any kind of sense. 

Jake Gyllenhaal kind of is a hit or miss for me, I don’t like him in everything. He has to really play the right role for me. Southpaw was probably a really good example, I just don’t find him to be a great actor. I don’t find him to be a versatile actor. Jarhead was okay, but because I’m a military person, I try to avoid commenting about military movies because I definitely have a very biased opinion. 

Getting back to The Guilty, I don’t really have too much that I liked about it other than what I’ve mentioned, which is the storyline appears to be good. It sounds interesting. I just didn’t like the direction that it took. It was a little bit weird. It was weird with the whole twist. I think you need to be invested in a story a little bit before a twist will properly land and as I mentioned, we didn’t really care very much about Joe. We didn’t know enough about him and we didn’t really know that much about Emily either. So when we found out that she was actually nuts, you almost get angry at the husband for how weird he decided to be with that situation. And I think even Joe calls out, Well, why didn’t you call the police? This is what we’re trying to do is try and help you. And it’s just I don’t know what the husband was trying to even do, and it wasn’t made clear what he was trying to do. He never says what he’s trying to do, and it’s an odd story, and it doesn’t give you anything and it doesn’t explain anything either. 

By the time you’re done, you’re kind of pissed that you wasted the time to watch it because never have you been more aware that this was a movie you were watching. It was like, okay, is this going to get good at any point? No moments that I can think of that I was engaged at any point, didn’t capture me, didn’t hold me nothin and then they ended the movie with some blundering twist. And I’m actually glad I had this experience because I’ve never seen a twist that didn’t work. I’ve seen twists that pissed people off, but not twists that just didn’t work because the rest of the story was shit. 

Let’s get into some: “Did you know?” about the film. 

Not too many things with this. We learned pretty much this movie just has a lot of history. The makers of the film knew each other, and that’s kind of another reason why I felt like they made this. I think they liked the script and they probably liked the Danish movie and they thought that they could match that and they got a good group of people together but it didn’t work. 

So this film was actually shot in eleven days during October of last year, due to the COVID pandemic and knowing that little fact, it shows. It felt like this movie was filmed in a very short amount of time. It had to be two things; filmed in a short amount of time or cut together horribly means bad editing. I’ll have to look back at the editor and the work that the editor has done. But knowing that it was shot in eleven days, that kind of helps me understand a little bit better, probably slightly low budget. And the director, Antoine Fuqua, tested positive for COVID just before filming started so he directed the majority of the scenes from a van with monitors inside instead of on the soundstage with the actors. 

That is another big piece to explain why so much of this didn’t feel real. And that was my issue with it was; Where’s the movie? It was just a bunch of filming and a bunch of scenes cut together, and there was just no feeling behind it and that’s kind of a big thing when you’re a director. 

But people say that directors are like coaches, and that’s very important. They’re kind of more like a particular kind of coach that needs to be close to the action. There’s football where you’ve got a coach up in the box that’s seeing the whole overview of the field. And then you’ve got the coaches and the coordinators that are down actually on the field and getting that on field perspective. There’s two different perspectives that you’re getting in two different ways that you’re coaching and able to see things from those two different views. 

It is very important when you are directing a film for you to be up in your actor’s face. You need to be down there with the action so that you can feel how everything is hitting. And if it’s hitting you wrong and it’s not coming together, that’s where your artistic side comes in and you can move people and stop it from where it’s going and what it’s doing and change the atmosphere, change the energy, change the physiology of the project so that your actors feel something. 

I don’t know. I’ve never understood why directors don’t just cut the movie, smack Jake across the face and make sure that he’s awake and alive. Like, Can you give me something other than your blank fucking staring and your little dragging back and forth between the scenes and your little puppy dog stares? It’s not enough for me. And I’m tired of Jake Gyllenhaal being this presumed powerhouse in this famed name when he does movies like this, and it’s just like, okay, well, perfect example of pretty much half of the movies that I’ve seen him in where he displays zero motion and zero connection with the character that he’s playing, and he literally just looks like: Okay, this is Jake Gyllenhaal playing a role. 

So glad he wasn’t Spiderman. Everybody said that Toby Maguire and him were so close. I think they said that they asked Jake Gyllenhaal to play Spider Man or read for him, and he said that he didn’t want to because he didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of role. And I’m like that probably would have been a little better for your image, but I don’t think I could have seen him in that role. Any motionless Spiderman? No, wouldn’t have worked.

Thank you all for tuning in and checking out this episode. I know that it was a little bit of a dry movie and it got some pretty bad reviews, so thank you for listening and catching that little piece.

I hope you enjoyed–not necessarily the new format, but the new added pieces to the content. I’ll be doing that every episode, comparing my review to Hollywood’s rating and then also giving you a little bit of unknown facts about the film. 

Thanks for listening, everyone. I’ll catch you next time. 


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Happy watching everyone.

Published by Kris C.

Kris is the host of the REEL Film Reviewed podcast, the owner of REEL ProduCtions, LLC, (the capital C is intentional) and is an independent filmmaker.

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