FILM REVIEW | The Guilty

Movies set in one location tend to be either great or awful - and it depends on who you ask.

Ryan Reynolds' Buried is a masterpiece of claustrophobic filmmaking to some, but it's boring and stifling to others. Colin Farrell's Phone Booth has people likewise divided, but 12 Angry Men is an iconic classic that pretty much everyone loves.

The latest film to enter this single-location category is The Guilty on Netflix.

A remake of a Danish film of the same name, The Guilty stars Jake Gyllenhaal as 911 operator Joe and follows him through the course of a shift.

But of course it's not just your run-of-the-mill shift of calls about car accidents and break-ins - Joe receives a call from a woman who cryptically reveals she's been abducted.

The woman, Emily (voiced by Riley Keough of Mad Max Fury Road), can't speak freely and pretends she is speaking to her daughter on the phone, not emergency services.

Answering yes or no questions, she tells Joe she's been taken by somebody, and she's in a white van headed in the direction of the raging wildfire that's gripping the Los Angeles community at the time.

Joe scrambles to alert highway patrol, the local police departments and tries to reach Emily's young children, who are home alone.

It's clear from the opening moments of the film that Joe is grappling with something we're not quite fully aware of.

Intense: Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent in Netflix's latest thriller The Guilty, rated M. Picture: Netflix

Intense: Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent in Netflix's latest thriller The Guilty, rated M. Picture: Netflix

He's shown struggling to breathe in the first scene, being quite the jerk to his colleagues and anticipating some sort of course case the next day.

We learn that before he was sidelined to the 911 desk, Joe was an LAPD officer and if his case goes favourably, he could be again.

Gyllenhaal plays the character exceptionally well - as we've come to expect from the Oscar-nominated actor.

From Zodiac to Nightcrawler, Prisoners to Southpaw, and Brothers to Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal has consistently shown that he is one of the best actors going around, equally able to deliver villainous, heroic and more morally cloudy performances.

As the lead character in the film, and pretty much the only one on screen for the entire 90-minute runtime, Gyllenhaal has a lot to shoulder, and he achieves it seemingly with ease. He is gripping and it's impossible to tear your eyes off him.

The Guilty really gets your pulse racing and even though the camera never leaves the call centre, the calls - which feature vocal talents from the likes of Gyllenhaal's brother-in-law Peter Saarsgard, Ethan Hawke, Bill Burr and Paul Dano - are an excellent vehicle for the tense story to unfold.

It's superior to similar 911 operator thriller The Call in just about every way, and shows great ingenuity in pandemic filmmaking.

The Guilty is also a complex musing on the nature of culpability, accountability and bending the rules for the perceived greater good.

Well worth the watch.

Rating: 7.5/10