The Guilty Starring Jake Gyllenhaal – Movie Review

Netflix’s The Guilty delivers an unique Crime Thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Guilty Advance Screening

Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty is a crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It is about a policeman that receives a recent demotion to desk duty in a 911 emergency call center for an unspecific violation. Gyllenhaal plays Joe Baylor, who visibly detests his demotion and has frequent panic attacks over his upcoming trial. The concept behind The Guilty is its simplicity.

They filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic, which required a limited cast and crew, and only one set location. Yet, remarkably, this film thrives with those limitations. It is also set in California against the backdrop of the horrific ongoing wildfires that impede visibility for the active-duty police officers Joe must coordinate with. This adds plenty of tension to the various pursuits and emergencies.

What director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven) and Academy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal are able to accomplish with such limitations is nothing short of an achievement. Gyllenhaal gives one of the most passionate and poignant performances of his career. He is joined by a stellar cast of all-star actors who are only heard over the phone. Riley Keough as Emily is especially noteworthy in her voice performance. Peter Sarsgaard and Ethan Hawke also fill out the voice cast. Comedian Bill Burr also makes a humorous cameo, with an accent one could recognize anywhere.

This 90-minute remake of a Danish film from 2018 examines police brutality and corruption and even the hostility that takes place in inter-agency cooperation. It also briefly depicts the flawed American healthcare system. However, the nature of Joe’s violation remains a mystery throughout the film until he must share it in a heart-wrenching moment with Emily.


I give Netflix’s The Guilty a 9.5 out of 10. It is a must-see for any crime thriller fans. What could have been simply a claustrophobic and pretentious bore ends up being a non-stop 90-minute thrill ride with twists and turns that get darker as it progresses. All of this is anchored by an award-worthy performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Guilty Poster

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Writer, native Texan, DBZ fanatic, and budding Oscars historian

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