Following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the first reviews for Netflix's latest A-list led thriller, The Guilty, are now in, and it sounds like another powerhouse performance from the much-celebrated Jake Gyllenhaal. Directed and produced byTraining Day's Antoine Fuqua, and with a screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto, The Guilty is a remake of a critically-acclaimed Danish movie of the same name. So, has this remake managed to avoid the trappings of so many before it? Well, according to some, yes.
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter heaped praise on both the direction, the decision to center the movie on Gyllenhaal's well-demonstrated talent, and the performance of the actor, all of which results in a truly gripping cinematic experience.
"The production mines all the energy it requires from Fuqua's precise direction, which wisely keeps the focus nice and tight on Gyllenhaal, capturing every feverish moment of his palpable anguish."
CinemaBlend's Mike Reyes echoed many of these sentiments, paying particular attention to Jake Gyllenhaal, asserting that The Guilty will absolutely please fans of the Oscar nominated actor. They also strongly advise viewers to go into the movie with as little knowledge of the plot as possible, no easy feat for those who have already seen the original...
"No matter how you enjoy the film, if you're a Jake Gyllenhaal fan, The Guilty is something you'll absolutely want to experience as freshly as possible."
While many found a lot to love from Gyllenhaal's performance, it is indeed when compared with the original that The Guilty is found wanting. Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly says, "The movie seems to mistake the taut minimalism of the original for something that needs to be goosed and adrenalized, a thriller on a constant defibrillator. Skip it and go directly to Denmark instead." Siddhant Adlakha from IGN meanwhile also doubts that those who have already experienced the Danish original will find much excitement in the plot, though does advise that you stick around for the leading man saying, "Those who enjoyed the original will likely find little else to grab onto, but both versions are worthwhile for their leading men, and you could do a lot worse than 90 minutes of Gyllenhaal at his most intense."
The majority (if not all) of the reviews state that Jake Gyllenhaal is the main draw of The Guilty, with The A.V. Club's A.A. Dowd again pinpointing the actor's magnetism as the principal reason to return to this taut plot, even if you have seen it before.
"If there's a good reason for a viewer to return to this claustrophobic scenario, in full knowledge of both its revelations and the fact that they're unaltered, it lies of course with Gyllenhaal, giving it his volcanic all in a film which keeps him at the center of nearly every frame."
This conclusion was shared by Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting who says, "While a breathless showcase for Gyllenhaal's talents, the fairly faithful remake loses some of the hard-hitting edges of the original."
There are some however who do feel that this remake of The Guilty holds its own against the original, with Peter Howell of The Toronto Star even going so far as to say, "The rare redo that exceeds the original." While Brian Tallerico from RogerEbert.com was not quite so enamoured with the Netflix effort, they did feel that Fuqua and Gyllenhaal bring enough of their own touches to the material to make it their own; "Fuqua and his team ... add just enough of their own flavor while maintaining the thrust of their source."
Kate Erbland of indieWire felt much the same when comparing the remake to the original, but did declare that, thanks to the masterful work of Jake Gyllenhaal, Netflix's The Guilty is just different enough to be worth a watch.
"The film lacks some of the gritty tension of Moller's original - or, perhaps, just feels too familiar to those who saw it - but Gyllenhaal's explosive performance keeps it fresh and moving along in different ways."
The events of The Guilty take place over the course of a single morning in a 911 dispatch call center. Call operator Joe Bayler (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to save a caller in grave danger, but he soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, and facing the truth is the only way out. Mostly made up of close-ups of both Gyllenhaal's concerned expression and his computer monitor, The Guilty should provide Netflix viewers with a minimal, but no less emotional thrill ride.
The project sees Jake Gyllenhaal team up once again with Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua for this remake of the outstanding Danish thriller of the same name, with the supporting cast consisting of several big names, including Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Christina Vidal, Eli Goree, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Paul Dano, Bill Burr, and Peter Sarsgaard. The Guilty has been written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, with the movie set to be produced by Gyllenhaal and his Nine Stories partner Riva Marker, along with Antoine Fuqua through his Fuqua Films, among others.
Released in 2018, the original The Guilty takes place exclusively in one location, and similarly follows alarm dispatcher and former police officer, Asger Holm, who answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. Co-written and directed by Gustav Möller in his feature film debut, the movie stars Jakob Cedergren as Asger Holm and Jessica Dinnage as Iben Østergård, the voice at the other end of the line. Full of gut-wrenching twists and turns, as well as a stellar central performance from Cedergren, the original movie made the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, and currently sits at a deliciously fresh 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Clearly, the remake has a whole lot to live up to.
The Guilty is scheduled to be released in a limited release on September 24, 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix on October 1.