The Guilty

The Guilty ★★★

In a vacuum, this is a fairly entertaining thriller that takes decent advantage of the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal is capable of bringing his intensity level to 11. Plus, seeing it wrap itself up by the 90-minute mark is enough to put it on my good side. But if there's any movie that's almost impossible to watch in a vacuum, it's this one. Compared to the 2018 Danish original, it's simultaneously a betrayal of what made the earlier movie so unique (the office location in here is visualized with so much gloss that it never feels like a mundane environment) and an overly faithful recreation of what came before (more than 50% of the dialogue is identical between the two films). And for a story that asks you to pay full attention from an audio perspective, Antoine Fuqua is very eager to spoonfeed the audience with visual cues.

The movie certainly has a pulse, and it succeeds as a genre exercise well enough that I'm happy to call it one of Fuqua's stronger efforts. Still, it's evident that the impetus for the project is less "how do we make this existing material feel new?" and more "can we muscle through COVID-19 safety protocols and get this to completion?". To that end, I guess the filmmakers accomplished their mission, but that can't just be the only goal, right?


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