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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

The Guilty (2021); Grade: C

The Guilty (2021) tells a story about a 911 call dispatcher named Joe (Jake Gyllenhaal), whom is working a typical shift while a wild fire is going on and about. Joe is working the day before his court hearing date, as Joe feels partially confident he’s going to get out of it aye ok. Joe however encounters a 911 call, where it appears a woman is being kidnapped by her husband, while leaving alone a couple kids at home. Joe becomes so heavily involved with this caller, that he’s going to do whatever it takes to bring the woman home back to her children.

The Guilty (2021) was inspired by the 2018 Danish film The Guilty made by Gustav Moller. Before watching the American remake version of The Guilty, I decided to watch the original as I can understand what inspired them to make an American version… This was a pretty damn good film. Though The Guilty (2018) is mainly in one setting, it somehow manages to be a pretty good intense little thriller, that surprisingly pulled off a great twist at the end, as it also explains the deep meaning by the conclusion. With The Guilty (2021) I expected this version to only be taking a blueprint from what The Guilty (2018) told, while creating an entirely different experience. I believe you can create many effective scenarios in this setting, there are so many intriguing 911 calls that you can develop a crafty storyline while unleashing an unexpected twist.

Unfortunately… The Guilty (2021) instead is almost exactly a beat for beat American remake, as I was pretty bummed out. Now my experience maybe entirely different for most audiences, as I believe there are a great handful of people whom have never seen nor heard the original. I’ve known about the original way before this American version came out, I just never gotten around to it until now, it’s been heavily critically acclaimed. So I think those whom just scrolled on Netflix and found a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, they’re going to be satisfied that they found this. However for those like me that have seen the original and hoped for something original… They’re going to be bummed out, as this film really doesn’t make much of a valid attempt to change things.

The few changes that have been made is the main character’s personality, the main character having asthma, the set design, the setting being in California and during a wild fire, and given minimum explanation on certain moments we weren’t shown in the original. The set design honestly is the only improvement with regards to changes, it looked pretty nice and advanced in terms of technology and imagery.

The main character Joe compared to the originals main character Asger (Jakob Cedergren)… It’s not even close, Asger is a much much much better character. What I like about what The Guilty (2018) did with Asger is he’s pretty much a mystery, you’re kind of curious why he’s going to court on the count he seems like a pretty contain person, as he’s an open book. Asger pretty much acts like a regular person with normal reactions to certain situations, he doesn’t wild out regularly until he gets involved with the same exact scenario Joe goes through, I would say Asger is a fairly likable character.

Joe however… I found this character extremely unlikable and can easily be pointed out whatever case he’s got going on, he’s guilty as day. Like all Joe does is overreact about everything, he’s got a major attitude problem, as he whines and screams almost the entire time… Where is the mystery behind that?! Joe is an extremely annoying character, you weren’t really heavily connected with this character and his drive to help the woman on the phone, like you were with Asger.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance has it’s moments, I think his best scene was near the end when he started to let out tears. Other than that: Gyllenhaal over acted in this role, as it doesn’t really mesh with the character at all, unless you want to say they compliment each other for being annoying.

The story is almost exactly the same as the original, so of course my main issue is originality. I really don’t understand the lack of effort into actually creating a unique story, like I’m all good with this film taking a blueprint to set it all up, but it doesn’t even try to do anything new. Like most of scenarios in this film, is all exactly the same from the original…. Like what the hell man?! I felt the way the original handled the story was developed and executed way better than this version. The original not only developed a crafty thriller within it’s twist with the woman, but also the original developed the other twist within the title of this film, as it all meshed perfectly in the conclusion. This version doesn’t do that correctly at all, as one side is blatantly obvious as you already understand why it’s called “The Guilty” in the first place.

One thing that also irked me about The Guilty (2021) was the fact they introduced a couple moments, where we did see actual sequences of how it would played out with regards to what’s going on the phone visually. But this film doesn’t even go through with that for every single call, as you question why did you introduced me to it but are not going to be committed to it?!

The Guilty (2021) isn’t a bad film at all, I mean how could it be if they’re taking everything from the original?! I expected some effort put into creating some unique experience, as I’m left with disappointment.

Overall, The Guilty (2021) was just ok. I strongly suggest watching the original instead, it’s a way better film than this remake easily. -Mitch Smietana

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