Skip to main content

The Guilty (2021) Movie Review

I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.

His guilt is written all over his face.

His guilt is written all over his face.

MPAA Rating


Running Time

90 minutes


Antoine Fuqua


Nic Pizzolatto, Gustav Möller, and Emil Nygaard Albertsen

I am filing this review from a bungalow at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival, where the new Jake Gyllenhaal thriller The Guilty has just been screened for me and a bunch of Canadians that welcomed me with open arms and took me to a Tim Hortons.

That’s how you know I’m in Canada. Because they only have Tim Hortons there according to the internet. Man, this Canadian food sure is tasty here at the Toronto Film Festival.

Holy F*ck, there’s a group of Canadians going to a screening. Because that’s what happens here at the Toronto Film Festival here in Toronto. Where I’m at.

No. I’m in Canada right now. Freezing my Canucks off because it’s cold here in Canada. Would a person not in Canada say that?

Well, I’m braving the chilly Canadian weather just to file this review of The Guilty because…

Look! There’s famous Canadians David Cronenberg and Ryan Gosling sharing a healthy serving of poutine while watching an authentic Canadian hockey match even though hockey season officially ends in May.

I was going to take a Canadian selfie with them but you scared them away. I’ll just do the review.

"That person has a better headset than I do."

Summary of Guilt

As you know, The Guilty is a remake of the 2018 Dutch thriller of the same name which was a reimagining of the Mexican telenovela Abre Los Pantalones which is now being developed by Netflix into an 8-part limited series set in the eighties. If you’ve already seen the original, the remake doesn’t deviate from it too much except the beginning, middle and end and the part where character says, “I would kill for a Smørrebrød,” is changed to, “I would kill for some In-N-Out”.

Other than that it’s the same.

The Guilty opens in the heart of Los Angeles during the summer. Fires are burning all over Southern California.

We meet our hero Officer Joe Baylor (Jake “And” Gyllenhaal- Zodiac). He’s not really a hero. He’s kind of a d*ck, but he’s our main character so we’re stuck with him for the next 90 minutes. Officer Baylor is currently working the 911 dispatch, but we learn that he’s normally in the field. He’s on 911 duty for reasons we don’t know as of yet.

We also know he’s going to court tomorrow. And he has asthma and an ulcer. And like Nicki Minaj’s cousin, his nether region is completely swollen.

Scroll to Continue

Officer Baylor has been transferred to 911 duty before his court date. He’s adequate at the job, even if his people skills could use a little work.

It’s the night before his big court date. He just wants to be with his daughter. He just wants everything to go smoothly.

But he should have called in sick because…

He gets a 911 call from a woman named Emily (voiced by Riley Keough- The Lodge, Logan Lucky). She’s calling from a moving vehicle. It’s obvious she’s distressed. She’s pretending to talk to her child but trying to convey to Joe that she’s had better nights.

Using quick unicorn thinking, Joe uses the magic of modern technology to discern that Emily has been taken by her husband Henry (Peter Sarsgaard, who is the real life husband of Maggie Gyllenhaal- makes you wonder how he got the job. I bet it’s because he’s an exceptionally good character actor). Joe discerns that Henry took her against her will and finds out they’re driving a white van.

Unfortunately, because of the fires the LAPD can’t spare the units and the officers because they’re diverting traffic and shooting black motorists.

Red light district.

Red light district.

For reasons unknown that we won’t find out until the third act, Joe is taking all of this very personally. It turns out Emily has a daughter and infant son alone at home. With every second that passes, Emily is in greater danger. Joe finds out that Henry has spent time in jail.

No other units will be spared until Joe can provide a license plate number or some other proof of location.

Joe’s shift is almost over, but his night is just beginning. Because his night will not end the way he thinks it will. Emily’s life and children are at stake, but there’s so much more Joe will find out before the night is through like…

  • Alien abduction
  • Bitcoin
  • Taking selfies in the bathroom
  • Instagramming every f*cking thing you eat
  • And so much more.

We hope he makes it through the night in time to get to court, because that’s something to look forward to.

"I NEED my headset".

"I NEED my headset".

What Works With The Guilty

  • If you’ve ever wonder what Jake Gyllenhaal would look like wearing a headset for 90 minutes, then you’ve already traveled to Canada to see this. One of Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performances considering he’s not really acting with anybody except a fake monitor for most of the movie. He’s magnetic as a cop who might not be worthy of your sympathy.
  • Screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective, The Magnificent Seven remake also directed by Antione Fuqua) seamlessly transfers the Danish original into present day Los Angeles. Bringing in the nausea inducing fires (when not traveling to Canada I frequently visit California to bug Christopher Nolan about Tenet) and police officers overstepping their bounds, Pizzolatto makes The Guilty as much an LA story as possible.
  • Riley Keough gives a heartbreaking voice performance as a mother who only wants to see her children. You hang on every word she says. Even if you’re wary of Joe Baylor being a good person, it’s Emily you hope has a happy ending.

What Doesn’t Work With The Guilty

  • If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like bottle episodes or staring at Jake Gyllenhaal’s face, then this is not the movie for you.
"I'd like a new headset please"

"I'd like a new headset please"


A tense, if overwrought single location thriller than had Canadians chewing each other’s legs of in suspense, The Guilty will not make you feel guilty about liking it.

Really 3.5


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Noel Penaflor

Related Articles