THE GUILTY (2021) Reviews of Jake Gyllenhaal kidnapping thriller

New! Visitor ratings! Click on a star to indicate your rating of this movie!


‘Listen carefully.’

The Guilty is a 2021 American thriller film about a demoted and dismayed police officer who is assigned to a dispatch call desk. He has a life-changing experience when a woman calls to report that she has been kidnapped…

Directed by Antoine Fuqua from a screenplay co-written by Nic Pizzolatto, based on the 2018 Danish film of the same name written by Emil Nygaard Albertsen and Gustav Möller.

The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Spider-Man: Far From Home; Velvet Buzzsaw; Zodiac; Donnie Darko), Ethan Hawke (voice only), Paul Dano, Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Bill Burr, Beau Knapp, Edi Patterson, David Castañeda and Christina Vidal.


The Guilty is a film about a variety of topics. It’s a tense thriller, but it’s also a film about the titular guilt and a mental health issue that needs to be addressed more openly. It contains numerous twists and turns that thoroughly shock the audience and lead to a satisfying conclusion.” Daily Dead

“Perhaps to overcompensate for the lack of conventionally opened-out dramatic action, there is some big closeup acting from Gyllenhaal, but it’s a well-made and watchable picture of a man in the secular confessional box, a sinner forced to occupy the place of a priest.” The Guardian

“Played out in real time on what is essentially a single set, 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. Perhaps, in this case, a bit too palpable.” The Hollywood Reporter

“While Pizzolatto’s script throws a whole bunch of compelling stuff into the mix (like deeper queries about the role of the police in the modern world), many other elements rankle […] 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.” IndieWire

“Perhaps what marks this as a mainstream American remake most of all is how it treats its audience as idiots who can’t figure out the movie’s theme for themselves. Möller allowed us to put two and two together, but Fuqua has a character appear onscreen at the end and literally speak the theme of the movie. In summary, if you’re only going to watch one version of The Guilty, make it the original.” The Movie Waffler

” …there’s little, if anything to justify why The Guilty was made or why viewers non-adverse to subtitles or who aren’t diehard fans of Gyllenhaal or Fuqua completists simply wouldn’t seek out the superior original.” Screen Anarchy

“Gyllenhaal’s impressive, but The Guilty almost certainly would have been more effective if he’d dialed down the intensity a bit […] we think, “This guy’s mental.” […] the idea that all the excitement of this one night might lead him to make the call he does in his own life pushes the fantasy just one step too far.” Variety


The Guilty had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next month before being released theatrically and on Netflix on October 1, 2021.

Main cast and characters:

Jake Gyllenhaal … Joe Baylor
Riley Keough … Emily Lighton (voice)
Peter Sarsgaard … Henry Fisher (voice)
Christina Vidal … Sgt. Denise Wade (as Christina Vidal Mitchell)
Eli Goree … Rick
Ethan Hawke … Sgt. Bill Miller (voice)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph … CHP Dispatcher (voice)
Christiana Montoya … Abby (voice)
David Castañeda … Tim Gerachi
Adrian Martinez … Manny
Oscar Balderrama … Scott
Becky Wu … Riva
Bret Eric Porter … Marion
Maurice Webster … Gary

Technical details:

90 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1

Teaser trailer:


MOVIES and MANIA rating:

MOVIES and MANIA provides an aggregated range of film reviews from a wide variety of credited sources, plus our own reviews and ratings, in one handy web location. We are a genuinely independent website and rely solely on the minor income generated by internet ads to stay online and expand. Please support us by not blocking ads. If you do block ads please consider making a small donation to our running costs instead. We'd really appreciate it. Thank you. As an Amazon Associate, the owner occasionally earns a small amount from qualifying linked purchases.