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guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

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Largely loyal to the 2018 highly-acclaimed thriller of the same name, “The Guilty” will offend some cinephiles with its very existence. “Just see the original,” they will shout, basically ending all conversation about the remake with the accusation that it should have never happened. However, if you’re willing to recognize that the remake industry isn’t that black and white (and not as purely American a trend as Twitter seems to have falsely been led to believe), there’s a lot to like here, including the fact that what I suspect will be a smash hit for Netflix will lead people back to the excellent original.

Ultimately, the narrative of Antoine Fuqua ’s “The Guilty” operates largely from the motto of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And yet, to be fair, screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto (“True Detective”) does add a few different notes of commentary on American policing and ignorant masculinity that slightly distinguish his take thematically, and Jake Gyllenhaal delivers as one would expect, proving again that he’s one of the most consistent actors alive.

The skeleton of this thriller is pretty much identical, all the way down to the clever little prologue that sets up our protagonist as flawed while also adding a different backdrop that’s very California. We meet Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) on the night shift in a 911 dispatch center as his city of Los Angeles burns on massive screens in the background. He’s an asthmatic who has been forced to use his inhaler even more in this era of smoke and flame. He’s also wrestling with an undefined controversy that demoted this LAPD officer into a dispatcher and has led to calls from reporters. Finally, he’s dealing with a separation from his family, trying to call his daughter just to say goodnight. All of this oppressive tension leads him to quickly judge the people who call him, like when he scolds a caller for taking drugs or argues with another who has been robbed by a prostitute on Bunker Hill.

The breakneck pace of this thriller picks up when Joe gets a call from a terrified woman named Emily ( Riley Keough , giving an absolutely phenomenal voice performance). She’s in trouble but can’t exactly say why, so Joe leads her through a series of yes and no questions. He figures out she’s in a very bad situation, and he soon gets incredibly invested in her nightmare, even more so after he speaks to Emily’s six-year-old daughter, who is home alone and terrified. He vows to save Emily and her daughter without really having any clear understanding of what’s going on. He acts on his interpretations and makes some drastic mistakes. Fuqua and Pizzolatto carefully tie Joe's behavior into errors in police work without ever making the film into a commentary on Defunding the Police. Still, the fact is that Joe is going to appear in court the next day for mistakes he made on the job, and there’s a throughline of what happens to him on this very long night that reflects how often cops act urgently and incorrectly, allowing emotion to overwhelm reason.

Of course, most of all, this is a taut genre exercise that Hitch would have loved—it has a similar forced perspective to “ Rear Window ” if you think about it. And Gyllenhaal completely commits, filling almost every frame of the 90-minute film. He conveys the tenor of a broken man from the very beginning, finding an emotional undercurrent of salvation in Joe that wasn’t fully explored in the original. There’s a sense that if he can save Emily that everything will finally be better. He will be a good cop, a good father, and a good man. Of course, anyone who places that much personal baggage on one case is going to make crucial mistakes. Gyllenhaal goes deep here—it will be too broad for some in the final scenes—but I was reminded how invested he is every single time. He never phones it in.

Fuqua’s smartest decision is to put the weight of the piece on Joe’s shoulders. Other directors would have added graphics like a ticking clock or over-cut the piece, but Fuqua and editor Jason Ballantine (“ It ”) keep us locked into Joe Baylor, often letting his conversations unfold in unbroken shots. There are so many places that “The Guilty” could have gone wrong—and I’m sure some of them were discussed in producer’s offices—that I’m happy to report that Fuqua and his team very clearly understood what worked about the original. They add just enough of their own flavor while maintaining the thrust of their source so that only the most purist could argue against their innocence in the court of movie criticism.  

This review was originally filed after the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th. It opens in limited theatrical release on September 24 th and it will be on Netflix on October 1 st .

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Film credits.

The Guilty movie poster

The Guilty (2021)

Rated R for language throughout.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Bayler

Riley Keough as (voice)

Ethan Hawke as (voice)

Peter Sarsgaard as (voice)

Paul Dano as (voice)

Bill Burr as (voice)

Gillian Zinser as Jess (voice)

Vivien Lyra Blair as Abby (voice)

Da'Vine Joy Randolph

Edi Patterson

  • Antoine Fuqua

Writer (original screenplay)

  • Gustav Möller
  • Emil Nygaard Albertsen
  • Nic Pizzolatto


  • Maz Makhani
  • Jason Ballantine
  • Marcelo Zarvos

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‘The Guilty’ Review: Dial R for Redemption

Jake Gyllenhaal plays an imploding 911 operator in this riveting remake.

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guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

By Jeannette Catsoulis

Whether you favor Gustav Moller’s 2018 Danish drama, “The Guilty,” or the Netflix remake of the same name will depend on whether you prefer your thrillers acoustic or electric, chilly or hot-wired. It will also hinge on your answer to the question, How many close-ups of Jake Gyllenhaal are too many?

Embellishing Moller’s jangly psychological study with Los Angeles color, the director Antoine Fuqua and his screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto have amped the original film’s energy a smidge and marginally widened its perspective. The plot’s relentlessly clambering tension, though largely identical to the original, is catnip to Gyllenhaal, into whose tortured eyes and sweating pores the camera happily descends. As Joe Baylor, a disgraced L.A.P.D. officer temporarily assigned to an emergency call center, the actor builds to an all-caps-plus-exclamation-point performance; that he does so without losing his grip — on us or the character — is some kind of miracle.

When we meet him, Joe is already approaching his last nerve. As flaring wildfires and other emergencies fill the huge screens that overlook the operators on duty, he’s in the bathroom, gasping through an asthma attack. Back at his desk, he rudely swats away the callers he deems less than emergent, curtly processing the rest. It’s the eve of his disciplinary hearing for the unspecified offense that has landed him in this purgatory, and his resentment and boredom are obvious.

Then a woman calls, in what initially appears to be a wrong number as she’s addressing a child, and we can see Joe’s on-the-job instincts click into gear. His face and body suddenly alert, he questions her and deduces that she is being kidnapped and that her abductor is armed. What follows is a taut cat-and-mouse, conducted entirely by telephone, as Joe, instead of following protocol and handing off to other agencies, frantically attempts to solve the crime himself. Only later, as we glean more about his personal life, do we suspect his investment in this woman’s safety might be something more than professional.

Thanks to a vibrant voice cast that includes Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard and Ethan Hawke, “The Guilty” helps us to visualize its unexpectedly shocking offscreen twists and turns. Maz Makhani’s cinematography is glossily seductive, finding ever new angles to ogle Joe at his computer, while Marcelo Zarvos’s canny musical score resists thrusting itself into every verbal hiatus. When Joe sucks on his inhaler, we hear every wheeze.

Essentially a one-man show, “The Guilty” necessarily vibrates to the rhythms of its lead. As the original Joe, Jakob Cedergren was cooler and more physically restrained, perfectly in tune with his movie’s stripped-down aesthetic. In Gyllenhaal’s hands — and feet and everything in between — “The Guilty” becomes a more combustible portrait of mental breakdown. Joe, losing his grip on everything that matters, needs to find this woman before it’s too late. He desperately needs a save.

The Guilty Rated R for bad words and horrible pictures in your head. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty

The Guilty review – Jake Gyllenhaal’s tense 911 call thriller

A glossy Netflix remake of the 2018 single-location Danish thriller about a kidnapped woman seeking help is a well-made piece of entertainment

H ere’s a tense single-location thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua, remade from Gustav Möller’s hugely admired Danish movie Den Skyldige (The Guilty) with a little more Hollywood gloss and based on the time-honoured premise of the 911 emergency operator taking a nail-biting call from a female kidnap victim who is pretending to her abductor that she is speaking to her infant daughter, and having to speak in code. (Brad Anderson’s 2013 film The Call – starring Halle Berry as the operator – had a comparable idea.)

Joe Baylor, played by a gaunt Jake Gyllenhaal , is a troubled LAPD officer with a failed marriage and failing health; he has evidently got into serious trouble over some incident at work – and keeps getting calls from the press. Now, while his case is being investigated, Joe has been busted down to what he considers the humiliatingly lowly level of emergency operator with a headset phone, taking 911 calls from the public, the vast majority of these being farcically unimportant. Meanwhile, California wildfires are creating a continuous, ambient atmosphere of crisis.

Then Joe is electrified to take the tearful call from a terrified woman, and whatever his own problems, his police savvy kicks in – he cleverly divines exactly what the situation is and how he can find out what’s happening from just a few clues. And the parallels with his own fraught family situation suggest to the agonised Joe that some kind of personal redemption is possible, and that Joe should make some desperate attempt to control and solve the entire situation from the phone. He becomes increasingly unprofessional and crazy – staying on the job after his shift ends and ignoring all the other 911 calls. Inevitably, it’s a stagey set-up, and the dramatic effect of the closeup on the officer’s sweaty face and the distant voice on the other end of the line begins to diminish over time, so Gyllenhaal has to lose it more extravagantly with shouting and temper-loss and confessional agony. But as time passes, it seems that the situation is more complicated that Joe thought – as is the question of who the title refers to. 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 Guilty is released on 24 September in cinemas, and on 1 October on Netflix.

  • Jake Gyllenhaal
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  • Toronto film festival 2021

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‘The Guilty’ Review: Jake Gyllenhaal Turns a Routine Emergency Into a Conflicted Cop’s Trial by Fire

This is the kind of project more people should have been making during the pandemic: a virtual one-man show built around a high-stakes 911 call.

By Peter Debruge

Peter Debruge

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The Guilty

Who is (or are) “ The Guilty ” referenced in Antoine Fuqua ’s tense new Netflix thriller, adapted from the 2018 Danish film of the same name? The title obviously matters, since the “Training Day” director kept it. Fact is, Fuqua changes precious little in what amounts to a pretty direct remake of a nervy, adrenaline-rush crisis-management movie, one that tracks a more-complex-than-it-seems abduction from the limited perspective of a conflicted emergency services phone operator.

Transferred from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, where it unfolds in the midst of a massive wildfire outbreak, “The Guilty” stars Jake Gyllenhaal and barely anyone else. (Riley Keough, Paul Dano and Ethan Hawke lend their voices, but it’s Gyllenhaal’s big blue eyes we’re watching for the better part of 90 minutes.) That’s the high-concept hook Fuqua’s adaptation more than satisfies: The camera hardly ever leaves Gyllenhaal, who plays Joe Baylor, a cop who’s been temporarily demoted from patrolling the streets to answering calls at a 911 communications center.

While the other operators do their adequate, professional best, Joe goes above and beyond. If a cat got stuck in a tree, you can imagine him dispatching the entire fire department to save it (and don’t forget, they’re plenty busy dealing with the wildfires raging on the TV news screens that make up one wall of this otherwise nondescript boiler room), or else transferring the call to his iPhone and driving down there to rescue it himself. Watching, you can’t help wishing that U-verse phone operators were this dedicated, rather than putting you on hold for 45 minutes and still failing to resolve your issue.

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Joe craves action, and being stuck at a desk isn’t about to stop him from tracking down the bad guys. Make no mistake: This is an action movie, even if the action is largely confined to Joe’s fingertips: the panicky way he picks up a call, the speed-dial buttons he pushes to ring California Highway Patrol or the Los Angeles Police Department. His digits are constantly fidgeting. As Joe, Gyllenhaal sweats, he swears, he furrows his brow and flexes his arms. You’re supposed to be watching his face, but even his triceps are acting — or distracting , as the case may be. If screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto could have figured out a way for Joe to take his shirt off, he surely would.

But “The Guilty” remains a largely faithful retelling of director Gustav Möller’s calling-card debut, a breakout of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival that was selected as Denmark’s submission (and later shortlisted) in the Oscar international feature race. The project originated as a tight piece of writing: a sly single-location stunt that puts us in the high-stress position of hearing but not seeing a frightening domestic abuse situation as it unfolds. It kicks off with a distress call from an abducted woman (here, Keough’s Emily) pretending to speak to her 6-year-old daughter, and by allowing us to hear both sides of the conversation, spins a whole white-knuckle scenario in our imaginations.

The less audiences know about the twists in store, the better. Like “Buried” or “Searching,” the movie makes the most of its limitations. But there’s a major miscalculation in the way Gyllenhaal plays it, so different from the “keep calm and carry on” energy of Jakob Cedergren’s performance in the earlier film. Fuqua doesn’t approach this as a business-as-usual 911 call but as a full-blown life-or-death emergency. Los Angeles may be burning in the background, but Joe Baylor has chosen to treat the kidnapping with the urgency of a “24” season finale.

Why is he so committed to resolving this particular crisis? Why does he insist, when speaking with Emily’s daughter, on telling the worried girl that police “protect people”? The movie is titled “The Guilty,” remember, and Fuqua doubles down on the notion that Joe’s conscience is in turmoil and that this job — heck, this call — could make a difference in deciding the court hearing at which he’s scheduled to appear the next day.

Society needs police, this film’s politically engaged subtext seems to be saying, but what happens when the social contract breaks down? (In one moment, Joe glimpses what appears to be a Black Lives Matter protest on TV, and winces at the sight of a burning squad car.) Yes, police are supposed to help people, but sometimes they don’t — more often than the system is willing to admit. And how do they earn back the public’s trust when that happens? Best intentions aside, maybe Joe Baylor isn’t a clear-cut hero cop. Maybe Emily’s emergency isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

Like Gene Hackman’s character in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” — a sound engineer who invents an elaborate conspiracy theory around a few words spoken by the couple on whom he’s eavesdropping — Joe could be interpreting the situation to suit his own agenda, responding to what he needs to hear in order to redeem himself. That’s a complex twist on your typical cop movie, bringing layers to “The Guilty” that make it more than just a very special episode of “CSI.” Gyllenhaal goes deep with the character, who’s every bit as tortured as the flashier ones he played in “Velvet Buzzsaw” and “Nightcrawler.”

Gyllenhaal’s impressive, but “The Guilty” almost certainly would have been more effective if he’d dialed down the intensity a bit. We see Joe wound up like this, and we don’t think, “Oh wow, some cops really take their role seriously” — we think, “This guy’s mental.” Even with his hands tied at this desk job, Joe can still pull in favors from his cop buddies to bust down doors and order street closures. Like one of those young Army recruits, remote-controlling lethal drones from halfway around the world, he’s got more power than makes sense. And 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.

Reviewed at Netflix screening room, Los Angeles, Sept. 7, 2021. (In Toronto Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 90 MIN.

  • Production: A Netflix release of a Netflix, Bold Films presentation, in association with Amet Entertainment of a Nine Stories Prods., Fuqua Films production. Producers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker, David Litvak, Gary Michael Walters, David Haring, Michel Litvak, Svetlana Metkina, Antoine Fuqua, Scott Greenberg, Kat Samick. Executive producers: Annie Marter, Christian Mercuri, Jonathan Oakes, Justin Bursch, Gustav Möller, Lina Flint, Nic Pizzolatto, Eric Greenfeld.
  • Crew: Director: Antoine Fuqua. Screenplay: Nic Pizzolatto, based on the film "The Guilty" directed by Gustav Möller and written by Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen.. Camera: Maz Makhani. Editor: Jason Ballantine. Music: Marcelo Zarvos.
  • With: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Christina Vidal Mitchell, Eli Goree, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, David Castañeda, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard.

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Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty (2021)

A demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk is conflicted when he receives an emergency phone call from a kidnapped woman. A demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk is conflicted when he receives an emergency phone call from a kidnapped woman. A demoted police officer assigned to a call dispatch desk is conflicted when he receives an emergency phone call from a kidnapped woman.

  • Antoine Fuqua
  • Nic Pizzolatto
  • Gustav Möller
  • Emil Nygaard Albertsen
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
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  • Peter Sarsgaard
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  • Trivia Shot in just 11 days during October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Goofs Early on Joe's phone shows the time as 7pm. Shortly thereafter, his wife tells him on the phone that it is almost 2am. This is in fact intentional as shortly after that Joe says he's been losing track of time.

Sgt. Denise Wade : Broken people save broken people

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  • Just Try to Look Away From Jake Gyllenhaal’s Gripping Performance in <i>The Guilty</i>

Just Try to Look Away From Jake Gyllenhaal’s Gripping Performance in  The Guilty

T here are some actors so intense, their nerve endings sizzling so close to the surface, that they can make you want to look away. That’s Jake Gyllenhaal , as a disgraced Los Angeles police detective demoted to 911 dispatcher, in Antoine Fuqua’s stripped-down cop drama The Guilty. The film is opening in select theaters and will be available on Netflix on Oct. 1 as well, though Gyllenhaal’s performance is a test of what we look for in, and take away from, those two modes of watching . Viewing at home, you can take a break if the intensity of Gyllenhaal’s performance becomes too much. But the big-screen effect would surely be different: you may want to look away from Gyllenhaal, a jittery hypnotist, but it’s doubtful you’ll be able.

On the eve of his trial for a crime whose nature is only hinted at (though we can guess), Gyllenhaal’s Joe Baylor receives an emergency call that sets off every sensor. The woman on the line, her voice vibrating with nervous tears, acts as if she’s speaking to her child, but Baylor knows how to read her code. He deduces that she’s been abducted, and he pulls every lever in the system to locate and save her, though raging wildfires in the area have left all local branches of law enforcement understaffed. Somehow, the woman’s plight mingles with Baylor’s own personal problems, complicating her rescue.


This picture, a remake of Gustav Möller’s 2018 Danish film of the same name, isn’t strictly a one-man show: it’s Riley Keough ’s voice we hear as the abducted caller. Baylor’s exasperated boss is played by Christina Vidal—she corrects him repeatedly and wearily, a suggestion that his snappish anxiety has alienated everyone around him.

But it’s Gyllenhaal who owns the screen. He has worked with Fuqua before—they made the brutalist boxing drama Southpaw together—though this time, thanks to COVID-related complications, Fuqua directed the movie from a van, maintaining contact with cast and crew from a distance. What must it have been like to capture the serrated intimacy of this performance at that remove? Gyllenhaal’s Baylor is a man on the edge of time, reckoning with a deed he can’t take back and a possible future built on lies. Few actors can put this kind of raw yet strangely companionable self-loathing onscreen—and make you glad you didn’t avert your eyes, no matter how much you wanted to.

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The Guilty Reviews

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal continues to show that he is one of the best actors working in the industry right now, and even with the tonal issues and the blunders at the end, there is plenty of things to enjoy and to keep yourself invested for a short runtime.

Full Review | Original Score: B | Mar 1, 2024

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Fans of the original will feel like they have been put on hold listening to the same piece of music on a 90 minute loop but for new audiences, this is an edge-of-your-seat thriller than you won’t want to hang up on.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Nov 12, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

{Gyllenhaal's} unhinged turn that you can practically see mentally come apart at the seams. It’s one of his best.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Oct 9, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Fuqua does add some interesting touches, such as setting his movie to the backdrop of the California wildfires. But no matter how hard the film tries, it’s never able to muster the same intensity or humanity as its Danish inspiration.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Aug 17, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The Guilty feels like a movie only meant to pander to subscribers who still cannot abide by subtitles.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Aug 8, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The rare Hollywood remake that gets it right.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 2, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Film fans may bristle at the idea of yet another American remake of an acclaimed foreign film, but The Guilty is wonderfully well-made on nearly every level, with a powerhouse lead performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Jul 14, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

An intense, cruel, unstoppable thriller that uses unpredictability as its engine, The Guilty suggests the answer while our pulse slowly gets back to its normal rhythm. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Jul 6, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

It succeeds in creating a suspenseful story with good acting, even though parts of the movie seem too contrived. People who can appreciate this film the most are those who use their imagination, because a lot of the terror is what's not seen on screen.

Full Review | Mar 3, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Thanks to Gyllenhaals compelling performance and tense-filled moments, The Guilty is sure to be another crowd-pleaser for Netflix. This one will indeed have folks talking.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Feb 18, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Viewers who felt emotionally eviscerated by the fast-paced original aren't likely to have the same reaction to the new version.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Feb 12, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The Guilty is not just one of the better English remakes of a foreign language film but also one of the best Netflix films of the year.

Full Review | Feb 12, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The Guilty remains to be an effective dramatic thriller... it just begs the question of if this remake was necessary. The 2018 Danish version is exceptional and stands on its own.

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

This single-location suspense films pulpy plot makes up for its inability to conjure dramatic weight with its constant tension.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Feb 12, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The film might get a bit less mileage from its shocking reveals if youve seen the Danish title its based on, but Gyllenhaals tortured performance and Fuquas tight direction make it a compelling character study in its own right.

Full Review | Feb 11, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The Guilty is a 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.

Full Review | Original Score: A | Feb 11, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

A police thriller in which I don't find any significant tension during the hour and a half it takes to call 911 to report the failed remake. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Jan 23, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

While I found parts of the story to be repetitive, and some twists and turns predictable, the emotion-driven plot and lead character performance alone are enough to justify a watch.

Full Review | Jan 6, 2022

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

The script, adapted by Nic Pizzolatto of True Detective, and Gyllenhaal's no-holds-barred, emotional performance make The Guilty compelling enough to override heavy-handed messaging.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Dec 23, 2021

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Not sure if we needed the redemption story for the main character but it is what it is...I thought the voice work was exceptional and the film had a good amount of suspense. Jake Gyllenhaal showcases why he is one of the best actors working right now.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Dec 2, 2021

Review: Antoine Fuqua, Jake Gyllenhaal mostly justify remake of ‘The Guilty’

A man looks at himself in a restroom mirror in the movie “The Guilty”

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In Antoine Fuqua’s tense and toothy “The Guilty,” Jake Gyllenhaal shrugs and mugs. He cringes and cries. He snaps and snarls and takes frequent blasts of his inhaler, which is handy because, like the oxygenation equivalent of a movie drinking game, these interludes can serve as a useful reminder to viewers to breathe, despite the film doing its twisty, panic-attack best to make hysterical asthmatics of us all.

It’s unmistakably a remake of Gustav Möller’s largely unimprovable 2018 Danish original , but if it scarcely differentiates itself on a story level from “Den Skyldige,” Fuqua’s faithful reworking, given a gloss of L.A. relevance by screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto, does lean heavily into the one pleasure Möller’s film couldn’t boast: Gyllenhaal , glaring and growling, cracking up and breaking down, gasping down lungfuls of Ventolin the way a man underwater might suck on a snorkel.

The drowning man is Joe, a cop on suspension from street duty pending the next day’s trial, who has in the meantime been busted down to headset work as a 911 emergency operator. At first his night’s drama is chiefly personal, as amid 911 calls that range from amusingly whiny to bluntly abusive — not helped by Joe’s judgy, unpleasant phone manner — he also fields calls from a pushy L.A. Times reporter (Edi Patterson), from his recently estranged wife (Gillian Zinser) and from his erstwhile commanding officer (Ethan Hawke), all concerned for different reasons with his court case.

The dynamic changes — or perhaps Joe just finds a way to project all this stress outward onto something he thinks he might be able to control — when he picks up a call from Emily ( Riley Keough ). Pretending she’s talking to her 6-year-old daughter Abby (Christiana Montoya), Emily manages to communicate that she’s been kidnapped, and that she’s in a white van, before the connection drops.

As with the original film, a lot of fun here is in tracing Joe’s thought processes as the cop in him, frustrated by the inability of the overloaded emergency service personnel to assign more resources to finding Emily, starts to work the case from all angles available to him while he’s still pinned to his three-monitor desk setup in 911 HQ.

With almost all the actors other than Gyllenhaal delivering voice-only performances (Peter Sarsgaard and Paul Dano also feature) “The Guilty” is more or less a single-location thriller, but Maz Makhani’s glossily low-key camerawork, forever peeking at Joe from behind a computer and finding new angles of closeup on his strained, intense features, is varied enough to suggest claustrophobia without actively inducing it, and to give editor Jason Ballantine plenty of options for pacy, jittery cutting. And the mostly-one-guy-in-mostly-one-location approach also feels unusually well-suited to the laptops and living rooms that its Netflix release inevitably guarantees, not to mention being a canny way to make a slick genre entertainment under pandemic restrictions. (Fuqua directed much of the 11-day shoot from a van parked some way away following a close-contact COVID-19 scare).

Given its beat-for-beat similarity to the original, only this time with forest fires blazing in the background and a light dusting of very current American issues around an urban community grown understandably mistrustful of the police, “The Guilty” cannot singlehandedly justify the tired Hollywood practice of remaking perfectly serviceable films from abroad. But at the risk of having my purist cinephile credentials revoked, within its own very narrow parameters it perhaps does enough to justify its own existence.

Since even the original is predicated on our nervy, direct connection to this archetypal conflicted cop enduring his long, dark night shift of the soul, there is at least a case to be made that dispensing with subtitles and embellishing the action with a little local color and one of the most reliably committed Hollywood stars at work today, is, for English-speaking audiences, the maximum-impact delivery system for these expertly tooled generic twists and turns.

It’s not like there was ever that much to lose in translation from the 2018 film, which was a lean, efficient thrilling machine in its own right. Although maybe some flaws in internal logic — how come Joe gets so few other 911 calls? Why is he working at all the night before a trial so controversial the media are covering it in force? — if they existed in the original, didn’t seem quite so glaring in Danish. But treating its predecessor as simply the slender framework on which to hang a new, marginally different interpretation of the central character, the film moves like a whippet, and gives us ample opportunity to admire the vast range of facial expressions of which Gyllenhaal is capable, while still remaining just this side of overacting.

Not to suggest “The Guilty” is “Hamlet” or anything; it does deal in some odd psychological U-turns that even Gyllenhaal can’t quite sell, as when an unnecessary interpersonal clash or a dumb outburst instantly undoes the meticulous police work Joe has invested so much in, or when he temporarily seems to forget just what his real endgame is.

Still, as a portrait of a tortured man making the exact mistakes in his search for redemption that wind up being the source of a deeper, truer salvation, and as a surprisingly compassionate deconstruction of the snap judgments we often make about gender roles and mental instability (Keough’s voice work in the last act is particularly moving in this regard), the film delivers some insight.

“Broken people save broken people” is the rather unnecessary summation provided at one point, which is mildly ironic, considering that perhaps the highest praise we can lavish on Fuqua’s solid, enjoyable, easily watchable remake, is that beyond the addition of Gyllenhaal, it doesn’t try to fix anything that wasn’t broken in the first place.

'The Guilty'

Rated: R for language throughout. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes Playing: Starts Sept. 24, The Landmark, West Los Angeles; available Oct. 1 on Netflix

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Jake Gyllenhaal mans the 911 lines under a vivid red light as demoted cop Joe Baylor in The Guilty

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Netflix’s The Guilty is a psychological showcase for Jake Gyllenhaal

The film largely takes place inside a 911 call center

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Twenty years ago, Antoine Fuqua directed the well-regarded Denzel Washington/Ethan Hawke thriller Training Day . That’s easy to remember, because the trailer for nearly every movie Fuqua has made since then has dropped “from the director of Training Day ” as a major enticement. (Other similarly successful movies from fall 2001 do not share this distinction. “From the director of Don’t Say a Word ” hasn’t become universal marketing shorthand.) It’s indicative of how closely associated Fuqua has become with cop movies, even though they only make up a small portion of his filmography. He’s done sci-fi ( Infinite ), a boxing picture ( Southpaw ), and a Western (the remake of The Magnificent Seven ), alongside plenty of non-cop action movies and Denzel vehicles.

But he’s still “the director of Training Day ,” as if the last 20 years never happened. For once, though, that feels appropriate: His new Netflix movie The Guilty is an unexpected companion piece to his past police stories. It’s a cop-on-the-edge thriller where the cop, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is confined to just a couple of rooms.

In this remake of a 2018 Danish film , Los Angeles police officer Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) is answering 911 calls after he’s demoted. At first, using the job as punishment sounds like an insult aimed at the system’s professional operators. But after a while, Joe’s assignment starts to feel like a punishment for them, too, given his constant testiness toward his lower-key colleagues. Joe is clearly itching to get away from his desk and back on the streets, and while on the job, he takes several personal calls alluding to a rapidly approaching hearing that he hopes will get him there. He also makes personal calls about his obligatory marriage on the rocks, complete with disputed child custody.

Jake Gyllenhaal on the phone in a glass-walled 911 call center in The Guilty

But a distraction from whatever unpleasantness awaits him outside of the dispatch room arrives when he receives a call from a sobbing woman. She’s in a van against her will, being driven someplace. There’s a man shouting threats in the background. She needs help, and too many of the on-duty emergency responders are busy with California wildfires.

Stressed by the situation but seemingly enlivened by the opportunity to play cop again, Joe makes a variety of calls to different branches of law enforcement while researching the case, trying to help the woman from his desk. The Guilty is a single-location thriller; outside of a few establishing shots and brief fades into fuzzy imagery, it stays in the call center with Joe. Fuqua got his start in music videos, and it’s easy to imagine a version of this movie from earlier in his career relying heavily on fast cuts, impressionistic lighting, and dramatic angles to juice the limited action. Though there’s a little of that here, Fuqua more often settles down his style in the process of sustaining the material over a 90-minute runtime. As Gyllenhaal becomes more frenzied, the movie uses fewer cuts — some of its tensest climactic scenes play out in extended static shots of the actor’s face.

Underneath The Guilty ’s pulpy setup — not so different from the 2013 Halle Berry thriller The Call — is a more psychological human drama involving Joe’s troubled history and frazzled state of mind. As with Fuqua’s other cop thrillers, the balance of genre thrills and would-be social relevance isn’t always graceful. Much of The Guilty involves dangling the threat of child endangerment in front of the audience, chased with a treatment of mental illness that falls somewhere between empathy and exploitation. Some of this is mitigated by what seems like a genuine interest in how to tell a cop story in 2021. Fuqua and his fellow grim-pulp specialist Nic Pizzolatto, the True Detective writer who adapted this screenplay, clearly didn’t want to make a tin-eared throwback to earlier eras of police stories.

Jake Gyllenhaal looks strained as he stares into a mirror in Netflix’s The Guilty, almost as if he himself is possibly The Guilty

Though Fuqua’s films haven’t shied away from the misdeeds of law enforcement — recall the showy, malevolent character that won Washington his Training Day Oscar — they’re usually juxtaposed with innocent, honest police. The Guilty only really has one “real” cop on screen at all; the rest are voices on the other end of the phone, or officers who aren’t irritated about their full-time work at the call center. The phone-only cast is impressive: Peter Sarsgaard, Riley Keough, Ethan Hawke, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Paul Dano all call in, as if this were a supersized episode of Frasier .

But Gyllenhaal is the whole show, and his irritable, driven, struggling character doesn’t exactly glorify his line of work. His unpleasantness gives the movie its edge, and perhaps also an unearned sense of gravitas. In spite of all the impressive intensity Gyllenhaal summons as the movie slowly clarifies the anguish of Joe’s full story arc, his presence feels like a shortcut, albeit an impressive one — a near-guarantee that the movie will be taken more seriously. Maybe it should be; there’s value in addressing serious problems from the confines of a gimmicky pulp thriller. But as with Training Day , a memorable performance sometimes dominates the drama, rather than serving it.

The Guilty is now streaming on Netflix.

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Jake gyllenhaal in ‘the guilty’: film review | tiff 2021.

Antoine Fuqua directs this American remake of the taut 2018 Danish thriller.

By Michael Rechtshaffen

Michael Rechtshaffen

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Jake Gyllenhaal in 'The Guilty'

A filmmaker with a firm grip on gritty action, Antoine Fuqua gamely takes up the challenge presented by The Guilty , a deceptively spare crime thriller that relies on the fertile imagination of the viewer to conjure up the usual highly charged set pieces.

Based on the 2018 Danish film by Gustav Moller that masterfully ratcheted up maximum tautness in minimal surroundings, the American remake stars typically dependable Jake Gyllenhaal as a police officer working in a dispatch center who receives a cryptic distress call from the victim of an abduction from inside a speeding vehicle.

Venue: Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations)

Release date: Friday, Oct. 1

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David Castaneda, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Screenwriter: Nic Pizzolatto

But although both Fuqua and his Southpaw star are essentially up to the task at hand, they’re let down by an exposition-heavy script that continually undercuts the crucial building tension. The film still offers Netflix viewers something that’s off the beaten track, but those unfamiliar with the cleverly crafted original will be getting only a diluted taste of what made the concept so bracingly effective.

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Anxious to get back out on the street, Gyllenhaal’s Joe Baylor is an LAPD cop relegated to 911 duty (for reasons soon to be revealed), robotically taking the usual crackpot calls against the imposing backdrop wall of huge TV news monitors displaying raging wildfires that threaten to engulf the city.

Frustratedly tethered to his headset, he’s jolted to attention by that hushed, tearful call from a woman (Riley Keough, heard but never seen), who, as Baylor is able to piece together, has been taken against her will by her estranged husband (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), leaving their two young children home alone.

Doing the best he can given the limited information and resources at his disposal, Baylor battles a ticking clock to save the woman and, in the process, find some much-needed redemption where his own culpable past is concerned.

Those personal stakes are played out too early in Nic Pizzolatto’s script, rather than allowing for the chilling details surrounding the abduction to first build in necessary intensity.

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 thing about those extreme close-ups is that the slightest wrinkle of an eyebrow can come across as being over-modulated, and there are times when things threaten to reach an unintended melodramatic pitch.

As with the imposing images of the blazing inferno that surround him, the true potency of the film’s construction lies in the spark rather than the flame.

Full credits

Venue: Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations) Distributor: Netflix Production companies: Bold Films, Amet Entertainment, Fuqua Films, Nine Stories Prods. Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David Castaneda, Paul Dano, Peter Sarsgaard Director: Antoine Fuqua Screenwriter: Nic Pizzolatto Producers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker, David Litvak, Gary Michael Walters, David Haring, Michel Litvak, Svetlana Metkina, Antoine Fuqua, Scott Greenberg, Kat Samick Executive producers: Annie Marter, Christian Mercuri, Jonathan Oakes, Justin Bursch, Gustav Moller, Lina Flint, Nic Pizzolatto, Eric Greenfeld Cinematography: Maz Makhani Production designer: Peter Wenham Costume designer: Daniel Orlandi Editor: Jason Ballantine Music: Marcelo Zarvos Casting directors: Lindsay Graham, Mary Vernieu Sales: Endeavor Content

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‘The Guilty’ Review: Jake Gyllenhaal Explodes in Antoine Fuqua’s Snazzy Remake of Danish Drama

Kate erbland, editorial director.

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Editor’s note: This review was originally published at the 2021 Toronto International  Film Festival. Netflix will release the film in select theaters on Friday, September 24, with a streaming release to follow on Friday, October 1.

It’s tempting to say only Jake Gyllenhaal could play the tricky leading role of a disgraced police officer in Antoine Fuqua ‘s jittery “ The Guilty ,” but that would be silly, because icy star Jakob Cedergren did play this role — in Gustav Moller’s 2018 original. But Cedergren never went quite so crazy, got so explosive, so positively unhinged. Star-producer Gyllenhaal, who bought the rights to Moller’s film almost right out the gate, makes the film his own.

For the most part, it works. The same can be said about the film as a whole, which has gotten a snazzy, Americanized update that will likely thrill newcomers to the story and satisfy fans of the original. If you’ve seen Moller’s “The Guilty,” well, you’ve basically seen Fuqua’s, but Gyllenhaal’s performance adds a go-for-broke turn that capitalizes on the actor’s deep emotional reserves. Nic Pizzolatto’s adaptation is not as tightly wound as the original’s (penned by Moller and Emil Nygaard Albertsen), but it does build in fresh touches that add resonance.

This version of “The Guilty” is set in Los Angeles during the height of wildfire season and, as a few quick flashes of newsreel reveal, also a period of societal unrest. Fire of all kinds is raging, and smoke chokes the air, but officer Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) can’t quite catch his breath: He’s got raging asthma and seriously fucked-up personal and professional lives. Forced to toil at the city’s 911 dispatch center — a punishment for reasons that slowly reveal themselves — Joe’s bad attitude is at a fever pitch. He’s pissed off at the world, and the world appears to be pissed off right back at him.

Fuqua and production designer Peter Wenham render the dispatch center as a glossy, wide-open affair packed with big screens, all the better to televise the many horrible things unfolding in real time. Joe’s job is easy enough — pick up the call, ascertain location and issue, dispatch the authorities to help, move on. Of no help is Joe’s bad attitude, especially in a gig he so desperately does not want, and he approaches most callers with obvious disdain. Some deserve it, like the whiny businessman who was clearly robbed by a sex worker and is intent on special treatment because he’s a friend of the mayor; others do not, desperately seeking help for problems they can’t solve on their own.

Enter Emily. The character is one of many in the film who only exists as a voice on the phone; Fuqua’s credits avoid attaching character names to the callers, though the film’s starry supporting cast includes Riley Keough, Peter Sarsagaard, Ethan Hawke, Eli Goree, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Emily is introduced just as her counterpart in Moller’s film was: Joe picks up the phone, but the sobbing woman pretends to be on a call with her distraught kid. Joe manages to push past his terrible mood and own family troubles to figure out what’s actually happening. Emily has been abducted, and she can only tell Joe so much. How can he find her?

Joe might not exactly be a cop right now, but he still has his instincts, his sources, and his bull-in-a-china-shop attitude. He works the phones, the tension rises, and secrets are revealed. While Gyllenhaal isn’t alone in this endeavor, “The Guilty” is still essentially a film about a dude on a phone. And if there’s gonna be a dude on a phone, it should be Gyllenhaal, who manages to work through a dizzying gamut of emotions and concerns and attitudes, all with an iPhone jammed against his ear and a headset atop his skull. He’s terrifying, but Gyllenhaal also sells the most important piece of it: He’s also terrified.

He should be. 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. (You’re telling me that, during this jam-packed late night in LA, Joe is beset by only one other call?) 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.

While some sound design choices feel too crisp and obvious (there may be constant questions about where the callers are, but we always know what they’re doing — a rolling tire, an opening door), “The Guilty” finds more flash in other craft elements, like the way Joe’s computer casts him in various shades, depending on whether he’s on a call. Red: he’s on with someone, flushed and healthy. Blue: the call is gone, Gyllenhaal washes out, empty. In a life upended by bad choices, this horrible night is all Joe has, and as Gyllenhaal and Fuqua plow toward its eye-popping ending, there’s no denying it. When that line goes dead, it’s all over.

“The Guilty” premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Netflix will release it in select theaters on Friday, September 24, with a streaming release to follow on Friday, October 1.

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‘The Guilty,’ starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is a handsomely efficient one-man show

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a canny, screen-owning performance in “The Guilty,” Antoine Fuqua’s note-for-note adaptation of Gustav Moller’s 2018 Danish film “Den Skyldige.” As Los Angeles police detective Joe Baylor, Gyllenhaal is all tightly coiled tension and volcanic rage: We meet him in the bathroom of the police department’s 911 call center, where he’s sucking on an asthma inhaler with the desperation of a dying man.

Joe isn’t exactly in extremis, but by the time this alternately absorbing and baggy real-time thriller runs its course, one of the mysteries to be solved is just who will get out alive. It’s clear that Joe isn’t happy wearing a headset and answering emergency calls, but precisely why he’s there remains hidden for much of the film; he’s clearly atoning for something, the contours of which come into focus in the course of his response to various callers (“Call an Uber and don’t bike drunk,” he barks to young man asking for an ambulance), as well as to his colleagues, whom he treats with an annoying combination of bullying arrogance and antisocial disdain.

Anyone who has appreciated Gyllenhaal’s commanding star turns in such movies as “ Nightcrawler ” and Fuqua’s “ Southpaw ” will recognize right away that this is prime fodder for another outstanding performance: With the exception of one or two co-workers at the dispatch center, Joe is the only character we see during “The Guilty’s” hour-and-a-half running time. (A diverting parlor game is to identify the actors playing the voices coming through his earphones.) Furiously tapping on various phone buttons and staring at his computer screen while wild fires rage on the giant monitors across from him, Joe is a muscle-bound bundle of pent-up fury and recrimination; Gyllenhaal plays him with haunted intensity that’s simultaneously admirable and unnerving.

Like such similarly structured films as “ Locke ” and “ Phone Booth ,” “The Guilty” takes a page from radio plays of yore, where the drama emanates from both the ticktock factor and the voices on the other end of the line. As the film raises the stakes with ever more manipulative and unpersuasive twists (the most climactic of which is painfully obvious), it begins to feel commensurately protracted and overwrought; the narrative tension becomes less about the story at hand than whether Gyllenhaal will maintain his superb control even as “The Guilty” descends into hysterically pitched melodrama and weepy histrionics.

He does, thanks to his own actorly focus and Fuqua’s willingness to follow his protagonist closely, occasionally zooming in on environmental details like a coffee cup or the red call light that sits menacingly — and then teasingly — on Joe’s desk.

Reportedly, Gyllenhaal put “The Guilty” into production as a practical way to overcome the strictures of pandemic-era filmmaking; it was filmed in an economical 11 days, with a stripped-down cast and crew. For its eventual lurid machinations and hyped-up emotionalism, the film winds up being a handsomely efficient one-man show. Like the man Gyllenhaal so convincingly embodies, it gets the job done, even if it inevitably goes over the top.

R.  Available on Netflix. Contains strong language throughout. 91 minutes.

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

‘The Guilty’ Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal’s One-Man Show Is a Hell of a Ride

Director Antoine Fuqua’s revved-up adaptation of the 2018 Danish film stays in one place but moves like a tough, efficient action flick

Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty

This review of “The Guilty” was first published on Sept. 10, 2021 after the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival

Jake Gyllenhaal has given his share of searing performances in films that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, “End of Watch,” “Enemy,” Nightcrawlers,” “Demolition” and “Stronger” among them. But none of them were as completely the Jake Gyllenhaal Show as “The Guilty,” director Antoine Fuqua’s revved-up but tightly-wound adaptation of the 2018 Danish film by Gustav Möller, which premiered at TIFF on Friday.

Sure, there’s a sterling supporting cast that’s seen more than heard, but this Netflix film is a thriller that takes place entirely in two rooms, and most of the time Gyllenhaal is the only person on the screen. If it’s taut and urgent and suspenseful, which it is, it’s because all of that is on the actor’s face and in his voice.

It’s also pretty true to Möller’s film, albeit with a level of gloss and its leading man’s star power. The low-budget original, which won raves as Denmark’s Oscar submission and landed on the shortlist but wasn’t nominated, cost less than $600,000 and was purposefully grimy; Fuqua’s version is high tech by comparison, and it tweaks the ending in a way that you could say is marginally more Hollywood. But it feels similar: A more-or-less real-time race by a 911 dispatcher to figure out what’s going on with a panicked woman who calls from a car where she’s being held against her will.


Of course, this can’t be just another 911 operator on a normal day — instead, it’s a LAPD cop who’s been put on phone duty while awaiting a hearing on a shooting in which he killed a 19-year-old suspect. And it takes place on a day when wildfires are raging across Southern California, blanketing the city with smoke and raising tensions to a fever pitch.

Gyllenhaal’s Joe Baylor is hotheaded, profane (he tells one caller who wants an ambulance after a cycling accident, “Call an Uber and don’t bike drunk, a—hole!”) and clearly haunted; when one character later says “I have blood on my hands!” she could well be speaking for Joe and maybe for most of the other people in the movie.

Joe’s day starts as a series of small annoyances and irritating calls, with Paul Dano making a particular impression (on the other end of the phone line) as a self-important businessman who doesn’t want to admit that he’s been robbed by a prostitute. But things take a turn when he gets a call from a distraught woman named Emily (Riley Keough). At first Joe thinks she’s drunk, until he realizes that she’s pretending to be talking to her daughter because a man has taken her against her will and is driving her east on the 10 freeway.

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From there, Emily’s case becomes an obsession for Joe. He gets the LAPD and the California Highway Patrol involved, ends up on the phone with Emily’s 6-year-old daughter and desperately tries to piece together the strands of a case that becomes more tangled and confusing with every new piece of information.

It wouldn’t be right to give away more details than that; what’s important is that we only know what Joe knows and we only see and hear what he does. Apart from opening and closing shots that take in all of Los Angeles, along with a brief, out-of-focus flash of a highway stop that Joe has requested, we never leave the rooms where Joe is stationed: a large, high-tech chamber with multiple 911 stations for operators, a hallway outside that room and a second, smaller room to which he retreats when things get particularly urgent and he wants to handle it himself. (Joe, you might have realized by now, does not play well with others.) 

“Broken people save broken people,” says another character at one point – the question is, can this particular broken person save other people and himself? And can he do it by himself, in 90 minutes, on the phone?

One of the points of the original film was that lifesaving decisions are made in dingy, run-down rooms, and the new version lacks the grungy claustrophobia of that setting. Still, the LAPD facilities make for a sleek arena for desperation, and cinematographer Maz Makhani revels in the mixture of bright screens and dark shadows that surround Gyllenhaal. The smaller room is particularly cinematic, with horizontal blinds mean that thin bands of light are cast across the actor’s face.

The Starling

The voices on the other end of the phone include Keough, Dano, Ethan Hawke, Eli Goree, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Peter Sarsgaard, among others, and all do fine work. But this is Gyllenhaal’s movie to carry, and his backlog of haunted and feral characters make him an ideal choice to do it, and to make sure we never lose sight of the burden Joe carries. (The movie isn’t called “The Guilty” for nothing.)

Yes, you can question Fuqua and screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto’s decision to set the film on a day of rampaging wildfires; the stakes are already high enough once Emily calls, and having it play out on the worst day ever just makes you wonder why Joe stops getting those other calls. And you can quibble with the details of police actions and the extent to which Joe is able to hear everything that’s happening around the people that he calls.

But Fuqua, like Möller before him, doesn’t really give you time to sit back and think about it. “The Guilty” stays in one place but moves like a tough, efficient action flick; it’s a thrill ride in an office chair.  

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guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

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Language, descriptions of violence in tense remake.

The Guilty Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Telling the truth can set you free from the psycho

Joe Baylor is short-tempered but means well, thoug

The staff at the police dispatch center is diverse

Wildfires rage across LA in televised images. Othe

A caller says he was robbed in his car by a "volup

Lots of use of "f--k." Also: "s--t," "ass," "a--ho

LAPD, CHP, Airbnb, The Los Angeles Times.

There's discussion of a narcotics bust by police.

Parents need to know that tense thriller The Guilty is a remake of Danish film Den Skyldige and stars Jake Gyllenhaal. It has descriptions and suggestions of violence that could upset some viewers. The violence is never seen, except televised images of wildfires and the main…

Positive Messages

Telling the truth can set you free from the psychological stress of lying. Sometimes people make mistakes even if their intentions are good. Sometimes people's intentions aren't good.

Positive Role Models

Joe Baylor is short-tempered but means well, though he's about to go on trial for a crime. He wants to maintain a relationship with his ex and his young daughter, and he tries his best to help a woman he believes to be in distress. He apologizes when he snaps at colleagues, who are relatively patient and forgiving of him.

Diverse Representations

The staff at the police dispatch center is diverse. The office has a gender-neutral bathroom. Baylor is a White police officer facing a trial (we don't learn for what until close to the end), a situation that echoes current events in the US.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Wildfires rage across LA in televised images. Other violence is heard or described on the phone. Baylor takes emergency 911 calls that include drug overdoses, bike accidents, and robberies. He's straight with callers, telling them when they're at fault for their own situations and whether they'll go to jail ("you should be f--king executed," he tells one). A woman calls and seems to have been abducted by her estranged husband. She says he has a knife. Baylor counsels the woman, who says she's scared she's going to die, to react violently in her own self interest. When police go to her children's home, the voice of the young girl and the bloody scene they encounter sounds harrowing on the other end of the phone line. A woman seems to threaten suicide. A man admits to having killed another man. Two people both suffer from psychological problems. Baylor struggles to breathe and vomits.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A caller says he was robbed in his car by a "voluptuous" Hispanic woman whom Baylor then refers to as a prostitute. The caller is worried his wife will find out.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Lots of use of "f--k." Also: "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "damn," "goddamn it," "hell," "Christ," "God."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

LAPD, CHP, Airbnb, The Los Angeles Times .

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's discussion of a narcotics bust by police. Baylor asks his ex-partner if he's been drinking, and the man admits to having had one or two drinks. Baylor relies on an inhaler for breathing issues. A woman needs medications.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that tense thriller The Guilty is a remake of Danish film Den Skyldige and stars Jake Gyllenhaal . It has descriptions and suggestions of violence that could upset some viewers. The violence is never seen, except televised images of wildfires and the main character's mild outbursts or moments of illness. Instead, people describe their fears and what they're experiencing in situations including drug overdoses, an apparent abduction at knife point and fleeing on the freeway, a robbery by a prostitute, kids left abandoned, a small child found injured, a possible suicide attempt, a murder, and more. A person's desperate description of his inability to get help to pay for expensive but necessary medical treatment is quite sad. There's some diversity in the cast, and the setting of an office has a gender-neutral bathroom. Lots of use of "f--k." Also: "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "damn," "goddamn it," "hell," "Christ," "God." There's discussion of a narcotics bust by police. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (2)
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Based on 2 parent reviews

Tense, upsetting remake has tons of language and disturbing content

What's the story.

In THE GUILTY, detective Joe Baylor ( Jake Gyllenhaal ) awaits a trial that, if all goes well, could get him back on the streets on duty instead of his current placement in a 911 call dispatch center. About to end his shift the night before his court appearance, Baylor receives a call from a woman (voiced by Riley Keough ) who appears to have been abducted. He slowly draws out the details of the woman's circumstances and gets overly invested in seeing the situation to its end that night. His dogged persistence could put the outcome of his trial in jeopardy.

Is It Any Good?

Dark in subject matter as well as aesthetics, Antoine Fuqua's remake of Danish film Den Skyldige transfers the tense thriller to Los Angeles. But LA is seen only in televised images and maps in The Guilty , which is set entirely in a police dispatch office. Instead, the city of extremes lies just outside the window. Like the violence communicated via 911 calls, it's suggested and overheard rather than seen, which lets the viewer imagine it and adds to the tension. The film cleverly employs light, sound, and the single moody office setting to render the state of mind of Jake Gyllenhaal's Joe Baylor. The tightly-wound detective clearly has anger issues, and he also seems to be suffering from severe stress, all of which Gyllenhaal -- the camera's solitary focus for 90 minutes -- sweats and flexes through. The film depends on his ability to sustain this tension convincingly.

Meanwhile, the enigma behind his character's circumstances parallels the mystery he's unraveling in 911 calls from an apparently abducted woman. Nothing is as it seems. Fuqua puts viewers at unease from the start, opening on Joe struggling for breath in a cold, white bathroom. Joe returns to his post in a blue-black dispatch office lit by computer screens, desk lamps, and dim light filtering in through half-closed blinds. On a wall of television screens, images of wildfires blaze across LA. Only when Joe seems to find a semblance of peace do the glowing fires appear extinguished. Most of the time, he can barely contain his angst. Ambient noises come and go, replaced by muffled sounds, echoing, or ringing, as if we are inside Joe's head. The voices behind the calls are played by well-known actors like Ethan Hawke , Riley Keough , and Peter Sarsgaard , but none are seen on screen. The snippets of their panicked calls are meant to disquiet. They weave a devastating story that broaches contemporary topics like police violence and social inequities, and one which only clears up -- like the skies over Los Angeles -- at the end of the movie.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how details about Joe Baylor are revealed throughout The Guilty . What do you know about him at the end of the film that we didn't know before, and how does this change your perception of his behavior and actions?

How would this film have changed if scenes had also been filmed on location, for example, in the van on the freeway or in the children's apartment?

Can you think of other movies you've seen where the focus is so intensely centered on one character? Did you find the actor believable throughout this film? Why or why not?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : October 1, 2021
  • Cast : Jake Gyllenhaal , Riley Keough , Peter Sarsgaard
  • Director : Antoine Fuqua
  • Inclusion Information : Black directors, Female actors
  • Studio : Netflix
  • Genre : Thriller
  • Run time : 90 minutes
  • MPAA rating : R
  • MPAA explanation : Language throughout.
  • Last updated : February 17, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Steve mcqueen’s treasure-hunt project ‘yucatan’ revived: gareth dunnet-alcocer set to pen netflix movie produced by robert downey jr. – the dish, toronto review: jake gyllenhaal in ‘the guilty’.

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The Guilty

After his labored and pointless remake of The Magnificent Seven five years ago and a sequel, The Equalizer 2 , two years later, director Antoine Fuqua has repackaged yet another pre-existing entity in The Guilty . The highly pressurized and claustrophobic thriller is based on a Danish original that was the debut feature by Gustav Moller, who co-wrote it with Emil Nygaard Alberton. After its 2019 Sundance Film Festival premiere, Den Skyldige was picked up by Magnolia and went on to a good art house career. This new American version is also set in just one location, a Los Angeles 911 dispatch call center from where cops try to calm down crazies and troublemakers over the phone, and it’s justified by the opportunity for Jake Gyllenhaal to deliver a tour de force performance; he’s essentially the whole show.

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guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

Shot in 11 days during Covid, this tightly wound drama from Netflix that is world premiering at the Toronto Film Festival is the sort of story that television loved back in the 1950s, an urgent, single-set, actor-centric story that’s all about writing and bravura acting. The original, called Den Skyldige, was written by Gustav Moller and Emil Nygaard Albertson, and this has been adapted by Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote the script for Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven , as well as numerous episodes of True Detective .

The setting is a large, modern room, where the crew-cutted Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) takes a seat at the high-tech communications center and prepares to deal with all manner of emergencies that inevitably present themselves daily in the big city. The place looks well funded, with big panoramic screens showing where callers are throughout the greater L.A. area, with Baylor seeming entirely on top of his high-pressure job.

This composure doesn’t last long, however. It turns out Joe has been separated from his ex-wife Emily and young daughter for six months. A sordid kidnapping and worse has taken place, there is mayhem, crying and screaming over the phone and malfeasance on the part of the supposed hero, who spends most of the running time trying to alternately advise, insist, cajole, intervene and otherwise play a role in the lives of several people in assorted states of distress.

The Guilty is not literally a one-man show but it more or less feels like it. As the situation worsens, the cracks in the man’s professional veneer start showing, then falling apart, as we witness a modern, technologically facilitated hell of his own making. It’s not a pretty sight.

Dealing with what could easily have felt like a cramped, stage-bound piece, Fuqua pushes to keep the pace quick, and his frequent cutting does lend a sense of propulsion to a piece that takes place in very tight quarters.

Gyllenhaal is the center of everything here and rivets viewer attention as his character desperately, with decreasing success, tries to cover his tracks. As is often the case with long withheld denouements, the ultimate revelations and reckonings are a bit overwrought, but they do take place quickly and are not the least stagy.

In the end, The Guilty is not a pleasant sit but it does move with force and speed and accomplishes what it sets out to do with a sense of style and purpose.

RELATED:   Jake Gyllenhaal And Antoine Fuqua On The Unique Challenges Of Making Their Suspense Thriller ‘The Guilty’ During Covid – Toronto Film Festival Q&A

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A director in a van, costars on Zoom: Jake Gyllenhaal explains how he made it through Netflix's The Guilty

The actor tells EW he never came face-to-face with director Antoine Fuqua, who was parked in a van a block away.

I currently write about Fast & Furious, The Office, and Will Smith. One day, I will write Hitch 2.

guilty movie review jake gyllenhaal

It's hard to imagine feeling more isolated making a movie than Jake Gyllenhaal did on Netflix's The Guilty .

From the moment the Oscar-nominated actor saw the Danish original of the same name at Sundance in 2018, he "just felt in my bones" that the "intense, psychological thriller" would translate to an American context. Gyllenhaal quickly acquired the rights, recruiting True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto as writer and Antoine Fuqua , whom he previously collaborated with on the 2015 boxing drama Southpaw , as director. And then came the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Hollywood shutdown — but Gyllenhaal soon realized that he actually had the ideal movie to be made during this unique time. The Guilty takes place completely over one day in a 911 dispatch call center and features the main character, demoted cop-turned-operator Joe Baylor (played by Gyllenhaal), mostly interacting with a deep bench of recognizable actors that both he and the audience hear but never see.

Then, just 48 hours before the 11-day shoot was to begin, a close contact of Fuqua's tested positive for coronavirus, putting the filmmaker in quarantine and the project on the brink of never happening.

"What seemed advantageous at the time ended up being a bit of a curse," Gyllenhaal tells EW of the late 2020 shoot that was already in jeopardy due to the rise of COVID cases. "They were talking about shutting Los Angeles down almost every day. So, because Antoine subsequently tested negative for days afterwards, we decided to get a van that was outfitted with screens and park him a block away, hardwired to the stage where we were shooting. We'd FaceTime each other after these 25-minute long takes. He'd give me direction, I'd take it down, we'd do another take. We never saw each other in-person the entire shoot."

Gyllenhaal says the love that he and Fuqua forged on Southpaw is why they were able to work under such unusual circumstances: "Because of our relationship and because I trust him so much, I'll go anywhere for him. I just knew, somehow, when we are challenged, Antoine and I always get better."

For his part, Fuqua found it an "exciting" experience. "I had to have eyes on set [and] our main cameras, and a way to communicate with my actors via Zoom and phone, when it needed to be private," the Training Day and Equalizer director shares with EW over email. "Jake and I would only physically see each other from behind the studio wall. Jake would climb on a ladder and I would open the door to my van, and we would communicate. I definitely missed the close contact with my crew, but everyone stepped up and we found a way."

While Gyllenhaal couldn't have anticipated the last-minute loss of his confidante and partner, he knew going in that he wouldn't be working face-to-face with most of his talented costars. Gyllenhaal appears in almost every frame of the film, as Joe tries to save a caller in grave danger, only to soon discover that coming to grips with his own truth is the only way out. Ordinarily we'd mention the list of voices that filter in-and-out during the film but Gyllenhaal believes "part of the fun is people trying to guess who the actors are." The opposite of enjoyable for Gyllenhaal, or for all of us in the early days of the pandemic, were the Zoom-related issues that the production found themselves encountering while connecting the ensemble.

"There was one computer, and it was in a drawer next to me, but I had no control of it," explains Gyllenhaal, who acted through loss of signal, echoes, and a wandering eye. "That drawer is the sound drawer, and it was also our first AD's drawer. So he would open it, and he would talk to the actors and get them ready, half-close the computer, close the drawer, and then go to one other monitor where he could cue them. And only every once in a while, I looked over the right and I could see these 12 squares of people in their closet, on a bed, someone in their living room, someone literally stuffed between pillows to try and get the right sound. [ Laughs ] It was really fun — outside of how intense it is as a movie."

Adds Fuqua: "Watching Jake pull off his performance was difficult in the best way. Acting is also listening, but the difficulties of having to perform under COVID and the technical challenges was a challenge that Jake handled beautifully."

When it comes to speaking directly to what happens onscreen, Gyllenhaal is much more cautious in what he shares, hoping he can make it through the interview without giving away too much. "Nothing is as it seems," he teases after taking a pause to contemplate. "Joe really does not enjoy his job, but, in the end, what he realizes is, in order to solve this case, he has to face a truth within himself. I love characters that are question marks, and, in a lot of ways, he's the ultimate question mark."

The Guilty premieres Oct. 1 on Netflix. See exclusive images from the film above.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Guilty’ on Netflix, in Which Jake Gyllenhaal is a One-Man Actorly Wrecking Crew

Where to stream:.

  • The Guilty (2021)

Netflix Basic

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

'Presumed Innocent' Trailer Teases Jake Gyllenhaal's Steamy, Stressful Legal Thriller On Apple TV+

Hannah love lanier is 'road house's surprise breakout star, 'road house' director doug liman's studio star vehicles are always refreshingly uneven, unpredictable, and weirdly alive, wait, was that post malone in 'road house'.

Netflix movie The Guilty is Jake Gyllenhaal , all the time, every moment, up close and personal. This (mostly) one-man show is the American version of Gustav Moller’s Danish film Den skyldige , about a 911 operator dealing with a harrowing kidnapping situation via phone, while also staving off his own personal demons. Interesting trivia: Gyllenhaal, who also has producer credit, pitched director Antoine Fuqua by saying they’d shoot the film as a minimalist work, under tight COVID protocols, in five days; it actually took 11, which is still ridiculously quick for a feature. The result is as harrowingly intense as you’d expect for a drama that’s almost wholly close-up shots of Jake Gyllenhaal sweating buckets.


The Gist: Wildfires are eating up large swaths of California right outside of Los Angeles. Joe Baylor (Gyllenhaal) coughs, hits his inhaler, exits the restroom and seats himself at a desk. He’s an LAPD officer, demoted, now manning a phone bank. As he answers 911 calls, we begin to wonder if there are any real, serious emergencies in the L.A. area — outside the fires, of course. Joe’s getting a lot of doozies tonight, and struggles to show much sympathy. “I understand, but it’s your own fault, isn’t it?” he asks one caller, and it’s not what the caller wants to hear, whether he’s a fool Joe suffers or just someone who’s truly hurt and needs help.

Then a call comes in on Joe’s personal cell phone. A newspaper reporter. They want an interview about his case — a case that goes to court the very next day. He yells at the reporter, hangs up. His phone’s home screen is a photo of his young daughter. He calls his ex, leaves a voicemail; he knows he’s not supposed to be doing this, but he just wants to say goodnight to the kid. He’s chastised for making a personal call on the job. He calls the LAPD dispatch, and gets his former sergeant (Ethan Hawke’s voice), who assures Joe that after tomorrow, he’ll be out of that call center and back to being a regular cop. Wishful thinking? Who knows, but Joe keeps hitting his inhaler, and snapping at his coworkers in the call center, and never saying please or thank you for anything, and now he’s just dropped some Alka Seltzer.

And then, the call. A woman named Emily (Riley Keough’s voice) is pretending to talk to her daughter, but she’s talking to Joe the 911 operator. She’s distraught. Soon enough, Joe deduces that she’s been abducted, and is in a white van on the highway. Then she hangs up. He barks orders at the California Highway Patrol dispatcher (Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s voice) and the CHP officers to find the van. He calls Emily’s daughter, who’s six, and home alone with her baby brother. He calls his former partner to go check things out. He gets a call from his ex but can’t answer it right now. Have they found the van? Is it the right one? Are there any cops out there not dealing with wildfire-related emergencies? What’s Joe’s damage, anyway? He sweats. His face is red. He promised the little girl that her mother would come home, but that’s going to be a mighty task, especially when you’re stuck behind a desk with only a telephone and a tenuous grip on your own sanity.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: In Steven Knight’s Locke , Tom Hardy manages all kinds of personal and professional problems on the phone from behind the wheel of his car, pretty much in real time.

Performance Worth Watching: The film is 100 percent Gyllenhaal, so if you’re not watching him, you’ve dozed off — although Gyllenhaal gives the type of performance that does not at all encourage dozing off, so you’re absolutely watching him.

Memorable Dialogue: “Call an Uber and don’t bike drunk, asshole!” — Joe has no pity whatsoever for a poor 911 caller

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: If you’re going to watch a contrived high-drama acting exercise, you might as well watch Gyllenhaal do it: in close-up, eyes bulging, beads of sweat forming, forehead vein throbbing Beethoven’s 5th. He’s utterly convincing as a man who — no spoilers — probably did something pretty bad, and now is forced to solve a serious problem remotely when he used to be hands-on, on the frontline. Frustration boils, guilt emerges, self-loathing quietly bubbles up. But he’s heartbroken, regretful, truly concerned about this woman Emily’s well-being. Does Joe deserve our sympathy? I think so, if only to cling to idealist beliefs that good people sometimes do bad things, or that bad people deserve redemption. More realistically, I don’t see Joe as a good or bad person, but merely painfully human.

So beneath Gyllenhaal’s fraught, anxiety-ridden performance, there’s a character in the midst of a moral struggle: he’s done something wrong, now it’s time to do something right. There is nuance in Gyllenhaal’s characterization, although that doesn’t necessarily extend to the rest of the screenplay, which tries to encompass topical anxieties involving civilian-police interactions and environmental destruction — personal, social and global apocalypses all occur simultaneously. Gyllenhaal and Fuqua wind the tension tight, compelling us to get caught up in the drama, even when things get bleak or predictable, or bleakly predictable. It’s a bit too much, and a bit too much on the nose, but the film’s vigor is undeniable.

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Guilty is a heavy, stressful watch, and if it isn’t too far-fetched, it’s at least a little bit fetched. Yet you can do far, far worse than watch Gyllenhaal work like this for 90 minutes.

Will you stream or skip the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller #TheGuilty on @netflix ? #SIOSI — Decider (@decider) October 1, 2021

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba .

Stream  The Guilty on Netflix

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Jake Gyllenhaal's Best Performances, Ranked

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the most talented actors working today, and these are his best performances to date.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a movie star with an impressive range of talent. His performances have spanned several genres, and he is unquestionably one of the greatest actors currently working. Gyllenhaal has the charisma, physicality, and emotional range to steal every scene he is in. It helps that Gyllenhaal comes from a family of professional talent, being the son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. His sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, is an equally accomplished star. He is certainly Hollywood royalty, but he has endured because he is a talented actor.

Updated Jan. 27, 2024: This article has been updated with more information about Jake Gyllenhaal's best performances, as well as useful features.

Gyllenhaal has seemingly done it all, having come a long way from his first major movie in the 1991 hit City Slickers . Gyllenhaal had a very busy 2022 as he starred in Michael Bay's Ambulance and lent his voice to the Disney animated film Strange World . In 2023, he starred in Guy Ritchie's The Covenant, and is currently set to star in a remake of Road House . He will also star in the Apple TV+ miniseries, Presumed Innocent , by Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley. With that in mind, here are Jake Gyllenhaal's best performances .

11 Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal animals.

In Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals , Gyllenhaal stars alongside Amy Adams as Edward Sheffield and Susan Morrow, respectively. The two were a married couple at one point, eventually splitting apart and remaining distant for decades. When Morrow is given a manuscript written by Sheffield in order to get her opinion of its quality, she finds a strange sense of déjà vu within the story's contents.

Gyllenhaal Plays Both Sides in Nocturnal Animals

Gyllenhaal gives a heartbreaking performance filled with rage and fury. The fact that he could play dual roles here, both playing a character in the novel and the real-life Edward Sheffeld with such ease, only adds to his sheer talent. Although the audience roots for Gyllenhaal's character, there is also frustration stemming from his inability to save his family. The audience is then given the chance to see him work endlessly to avenge his wife and daughter. Casting Gyllenhaal in both roles also makes for an interesting commentary on how main characters can be utilized by authors to explore facets of themselves.

Buy or Rent Nocturnal Animals on Prime Video

10 Love & Other Drugs (2010)

Love and other drugs.

In Love & Other Drugs , Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a womanizer whose immature antics get him fired from his job. Luckily for him, his charm gets him a new job as a pharmacuetical sales person. But things get complicated when he has to choose between that career and Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a woman with Parkinson's disease he fell in love with while on the job.

Love & Other Drugs Is Carried by Gyllenhaal and Hathaway

The setup of this romantic comedy isn't all too impressive or unique, but Gyllenhaal and Hathaway both play their characters so well that it brings the film to life. The two talented actors play off of each other to create magnetic chemistry and don't miss a beat, which can often be the undoing of romantic movies if handled incorrectly. It may not be Gyllenhaal's most popular movie, but it's certainly one that demonstrates his broader range in a more lighthearted setting.

Buy or Rent Love & Other Drugs on Apple TV

9 Demolition (2016)

In acclaimed filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee's Demolition , Gyllenhaal plays Davis, an investment banker, who begins to deconstruct his life after the death of his wife. Shortly after the incident, when Davis is pushed over the edge after a vending machine malfunctions, the resulting complaint to customer service puts him on the line with Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts). The two of them are unaware that such an innocuous conversation may lead to something greater.

Gyllenhaal Grieves in Demolition

Gyllenhaal's character is charismatic, and it is fascinating to see his methods of dealing with grief. He gives a fantastic performance with a good blend of comedy and drama, convincingly displaying moments of heartbreak and regret. At the same time, Davis acts as a father figure for a young boy (Judah Lewis), rounding out his character into something more fully developed.

Buy or Rent Demolition on Prime Video

8 Stronger (2017)

Gyllenhaal gives a compelling dramatic performance in Stronger , telling the true story of Jeff Bauman, who tragically lost his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Released in 2017, David Gordon Green directed this feature after previously rising to fame with films like Pineapple Express and The Sitter , later going on to direct the modern Hallowee n trilogy only a year later. Gyllenhaal stars alongside Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Carlos Sanz, and Clancy Brown

Gyllenhaal Physically Transforms Himself in Stronger

Gyllenhaal effectively transforms into Bauman and conveys the pain and sorrow that he felt during this time. Gyllenhaal balances this dark feeling with internal optimism, showing us how to overcome even the most tragic situations. The film, overall, is a great story of strength and perseverance. Gyllenhaal also proves his ability to transform into a character physically by nailing a consistent Boston accent, while simultaneously playing a character who was years younger than him at the time.

Stream Stronger on Netflix

7 Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Spider-man: far from home.

Gyllenhaal played the main villain, Mysterio, in Spider-Man: Far From Home , the final chapter in the MCU's Infinity Saga. Mysterio's real name is Quentin Beck, a former employee of Stark Industries, who wants to become the new face of superheroes after Tony Stark made a joke out of his life's work. Gyllenhaal famously almost took over the role of Spider-Man from Tobey Maguire for Spider-Man 2 , and while that did not work out, he eventually found himself in the wall crawler's universe.

Gyllenhaal Hams It up in Far From Home

What makes Mysterio such a great performance from Gyllenhaal is it allows him to play two very different roles. Early in the movie, he is made out to be a normal hero, and Gyllenhaal gets to put on the charm he displayed in films like Love and Other Drugs and Brokeback Mountain . Once the twist is revealed, and he shows himself as the true villain, he is unhinged and chewing the scenery, similar to his iconic performances Nightcrawler or Velvet Buzzsaw . Spider-Man: Far From Home showed two sides of Gyllenhaal at his best, and he has left a lasting impression on both the character and the franchise.

Stream Spider-Man: Far From Home on Disney+

Jake Gyllenhaal's 10 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

6 zodiac (2007).

David Fincher's Zodiac tells the story of the investigation of the infamous Zodiac murders. Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the investigation, eventually contributing heavily to the case's investigation. Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, and Dermot Mulroney star alongside Gyllenhaal in this intense thriller , making his stand-out performance even more impressive.

Zodiac Put Gyllenhaal on the Map

His performance is subtle and carried out quite well as a mild-mannered and innocent character, proving that he can play a wide variety of roles. At the same time, Gyllenhaal has great chemistry with his fellow co-stars, including Robert Downey Jr. and Chloë Sevigny. Zodiac is often considered one of the greatest movies of the 2000s, and a highlight for director David Fincher . While Gyllenhaal had been making a name for himself as a dramatic actor, Zodiac truly made him a name to watch out for, and his career only took off from there.

Buy or Rent Zodiac on Prime Video

5 Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie darko.

Donnie Darko was one of Gyllenhaal's earlier films , and it has since become a cult classic. Gyllenhaal plays the titular character who is having terrifying visions, including those featuring a monstrous rabbit named Frank. As a result, he is convinced to start carrying out several crimes. An indie darling, director and writer Richard Kelly would be elevated to stardom after the film's release, with Gyllenhaal starring alongside Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, and Mary McDonnell.

Donnie Darko Was an Important Stepping Stone

Gyllenhaal gave a disturbing and convincing performance as a troubled teenager and proved that he had a broad acting range early in his career. At the same time, Gyllenhaal brings us into the mind of a teenager battling mental illness while also showing him as just a child, portraying a fully three-dimensional character in one of his earliest roles. You could argue that this would be an important stepping stone for Gyllenhaal's future career in film.

Stream Donnie Darko on Shudder

4 Jarhead (2005)

In Sam Mendes' Jarhead , Gyllenhaal completely embodies the torment and pain that can come along with being enlisted in the military. Based on the memoirs originally written by Anthony Swofford, Jarhead sees Gyllenhaal playing Swofford in the middle of the Persian Gulf War. As part of the Marine Corps, Swofford and his friends find themselves battling both a foreign enemy and their own boiling tensions in the desert sun. Though the film saw mixed critical reception at the time of its release, some now consider it to be an underrated war movie .

Gyllenhaal's Jarhead Is a Dramatic Powerhouse

Gyllenhaal gives a powerful performance with several great dramatic moments. He conveys the brutal pain and frustration that soldiers feel while at war. It's appropriate, given that the film is a deep dive into the mind of a soldier. Gyllenhaall delivers an extremely convincing performance, showing you the emotional toll on an individual living in such a disturbing environment, reminding us of a painful conflict that will haunt us for generations.

Buy or Rent Jarhead on Apple TV

3 Prisoners (2013)

In Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners , Gyllenhaal plays a tough and intelligent detective, Loki, who is determined to find two missing girls in the middle of Pennsylvania. Hugh Jackman stars alongside Gyllenhaal as Keller Dover, with Villeneuve combining the two actors in a spine-tingling thriller. The film as a whole would later go on to be nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards.

Gyllenhaal Plays a Tense Detective

Through his gritty emotion, Gyllenhaal creates a character who obviously has a dark past and has seen many disturbing things throughout his career. During all the action, Gyllenhaal incorporates a nervous tick throughout his performance, proving his excellence at adding layers of authenticity to his on-screen characters. Gyllenhaal would later win Best Supporting Actor at the Hollywood Film Festival for his performance.

Buy or Rent Prisoners on Prime Video

12 Underrated Jake Gyllenhaal Movies, Ranked

2 brokeback mountain (2005), brokeback mountain.

Gyllenhaal gives one of his greatest performances to date in Brokeback Mountain . Gyllenhaal stars as Jack Twist, a cowboy who falls in love with Ennis Del Mar, brilliantly played by Heath Ledger. Released in 2005, Brokeback Mountain would become an iconic piece of cinema for a time, not only due to its groundbreaking story, but for the incredible chemistry shared between Gyllenhaal and Ledger throughout the film's numerous twists and turns.

Gyllenhaal Is Iconic in Brokeback Mountain

Gyllenhaal's performance in Brokeback Mountain shows us the anguish and frustration he has loving Ennis in a world that will never accept them. Jack longs for a life with Ennis, and Gyllenhaal completely showcases a man living a life of quiet desperation. His performance only intensifies as the film continues, giving the story a level of emotional depth that struck the hearts and minds of audiences during its initial premiere. Gyllenhaal earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance here.

Buy or Rent Brokeback Mountain on Prime Video

1 Nightcrawler (2014)


Gyllenhaal gives possibly his best performance of all time in Nightcrawler as Lou Bloom, a man driven to become a successful video journalist. Unfortunately, after failing to find success via traditional means, Bloom takes the life of being a "stringer" — a freelance photographer with a particular specialty. Bloom spends his nights filming tragic news stories for cash, willing to do anything to get a good story.

Nightcrawler Has Gyllenhaal's Best Performance

Gyllenhaal plays a character who is extremely charismatic but lacking in empathy. His dark portrayal of Bloom shows us an evil character who is satisfied with killing in exchange for success, something that not many people can fathom doing, much less convincingly portray. Many were rightfully frustrated when Gyllenhaal wasn't nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role in Nightcrawler , as the sheer level of intensity and passion put into every movement and expression has to be seen to be believed. Nightcrawler is a smart look into the ruthlessness of capitalism, giving us what truly has to be Gyllenhaal's best performance to date.

Buy or Rent Nightcrawler on Apple TV

Now that you've seen some of Jake Gyllenhaal's best performances, be sure to check out his latest role in Prime Video's Road House , a streaming exclusive slated to premiere on Mar. 21, 2024. Check out the trailer below:

‘Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant’ Ending Explained: How Does the Director’s Most Emotional Movie End?

Guy Ritchie's war movie with Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim is a big departure for the writer/director.

The Big Picture

  • Ritchie surprises with the emotional thriller film Guy Ritchie's The Covenant featuring a bond between a U.S. soldier & Afghan translator.
  • The film explores PTSD, trust, and guilt as soldiers Kinley and Ahmed survive live-threatening conditions.
  • Guy Ritchie's The Covenant sheds light on real-life Afghan translator visa issues post-U.S. withdrawal in 2021.

Guy Ritchie , the director behind projects such as Sherlock Holmes and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. , is on a bit of a roll. This year alone, Ritchie turned his surprise 2020 hit film The Gentlemen into a highly popular Netflix series, and released the crowd-pleasing World War II action caper The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare starring Henry Cavill , Alan Ritchson , and Henry Golding . Both projects contain the trademark snarky humor that Ritchie is known for, but his underrated 2022 thriller Guy Ritchie's The Covenant marks a sharp departure from the action-comedy vibes that he is generally associated with. The film explores the relationships that form between members of the American military and their translators overseas , and how the U.S. government has failed to protect these brave translators from the dangers they face in their home countries. It’s easily Ritchie’s most emotional film, and features one of his more heartfelt endings.

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film revolves around a seasoned mercenary played by Jake Gyllenhaal who, after being betrayed during a high-stakes operation, forms an unlikely alliance with an Afghan interpreter. Together, they navigate treacherous territories in a quest for redemption and justice against those who wronged them.

What Is 'Guy Ritchie's The Covenant' About?

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant follows U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley ( Jake Gyllenhaal ), who serves on a series of reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan looking for potential bombing threats in local villages. Kinley is traumatized within the opening moments when a surprise attack kills several members of his team , which makes him even more determined to root out the terrorist sects within the area. Since his previous Afghan contact was killed in the firefight, Kinley is assigned the new translator, Ahmed ( Dar Salim ), whose expert negotiating skills and knowledge of the area are put to good use. Despite their initial distrust of each other , Kinley and Ahmed form a tight bond with each other that becomes tested during the perils of service.

Ritchie made his name in the industry with stylized comedy crime thrillers like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch , so seeing him take on such serious subject matter is certainly surprising. However, the movie is a surprisingly effective and relatively non-glamorized take on military combat. While it’s evident that Ritchie has a lot of admiration for those that put their lives on the line for their country, he’s less laudatory of any nationalistic sense of pride or specific political figures in the way that other military dramas have been. As the story is fictional, there’s more room for Ritchie to work with, and he makes his point clear by the time that the film concludes.

Jake Gyllenhaal's Kinley Is Initially Skeptical of Ahmed

Kinley’s apprehensiveness of working with Ahmed initially has nothing to do with any sense of racism or xenophobia on his part. He has simply become overtly sensitive in the wake of the tragedy, and as a result, he’s bound to be suspicious of any new members of his team that could potentially be put in danger. It’s evident that he’s struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and despite concerns from his commanding officer ( Jonny Lee Miller ), he has refused to abstain from his duties. Initially, he and Ahmed get into a conflict after the translator disobeys his direct orders so that their squad can find a peaceful solution to a local conflict. Kinley is infuriated that anyone would disobey him, as he bears the responsibility of protecting everyone under his command.

Guy Ritchie Wrote His First Movie in The Most Guy Ritchie Way Possible

Kinley learns that Ahmed’s son was killed by the Taliban and that he is only serving as a translator in order to obtain visas to transport his family out of the country safely. Both grieving men find a reason to connect with each other , and learn to trust and admire each other more. However, Kinley’s unit is pinned down once more after they’re betrayed by a local contact whose family has been held captive. After Kinley’s squad is massacred, and he’s gravely injured, Ahmed carries his wounded body for miles, traveling between cities to obtain medication and safety. While Kinley is transported out by the Americans, Ahmed is not rescued, and remains a fugitive of the Taliban.

Jake Gyllenhaal's Kinley Goes on a Daring Mission

In the aftermath, Kinley feels an extreme sense of guilt; he’s happy to be home with his wife ( Emily Beecham ) and child, but feels guilty that he’s able to rest easy when it was Ahmed who risked his life. Ahmed has not been able to get a visa for himself or his family, and Kinley tries for weeks to get updates on his status. After many sleepless nights and no progress on Ahmed’s situation, Kinley learns that his former translator has become one of the Taliban’s most wanted, and that the U.S. military can’t locate him . He decides that he will have to return to Afghanistan on his own in order to find the man that saved his life, and repay the debt by taking his family to safety.

Kinley gets resources from a local military contact ( Antony Starr ), who helps him track down Ahmed’s location in the middle of a sparsely populated village controlled by the Taliban. Kinley is only given a small amount of support from his contacts , but they agree to give him support once the threat has been detected. After discovering that the village is highly dangerous, Kinley enters the area covertly and connects with Ahmed and his family. They make a daring escape together after Kinley’s contacts come through and fly them out; the film ends with the two men finding a moment of peace once Ahmed’s family’s visas have been dispatched.

How Much of Guy Ritchie and Jake Gyllenhaal's War Movie Is True?

The Covenant was co-written by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies , and while it is not based on a real story, there are striking parallels between the events depicted and several recent news stories. During the final sequence where Kinley and Ahmed are brought out of the dangerous area, Ritchie includes additional information about America’s involvement in the Afghanistan conflict and the translators who were recruited with the promise that they could obtain visas. After the U.S. withdrawal from the area in 2021, thousands of Afghan translators were killed, captured, or presumed missing after the Taliban seized control of the area. Gyllenhaal revealed that the film is a more personal one for Ritchie, and that he encouraged both him and Salim to improvise their lines in some instances in order to make their relationship more authentic.

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant is available to watch on Prime Video in the U.S.

Watch on Prime Video

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Jake Gyllenhaal's Apple TV+ mystery series reveals first look

Presumed Innocent premieres in June.

preview for Presumed Innocent trailer | Apple TV+

The series, based on Scott Turow’s 1987 novel, follows Rusty Sabich (Gyllenhaal), a prosecutor who is charged with the murder of his colleague and mistress, Carolyn Polhemus (Renate Reinsve).

Ahead of the show's launch on June 12, Apple TV+ has released the first trailer for the series, with the minute-long teaser showcasing Rusty's affair with Carolyn and the deterioration of his relationship with wife Barbara (Ruth Negga).

presumed innocent trailer, jake gyllenhaal looks worried while wearing a suit

Related: The Guilty 's Jake Gyllenhaal explains making movie in just 11 days

Presumed Innocent will consist of eight parts, which will, as per the logline, explore "obsession, sex, politics, and the power and limits of love, as the accused fights to hold his family and marriage together."

In addition to the aforementioned trio, the cast also includes Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Peter Sarsgaard and Lily Rabe, with David E Kelley serving as creator and writer. Anne Sewitsky will direct three episodes, with Greg Yaitanes helming the remaining five parts.

The novel has been adapted before, with Harrison Ford starring as Rusty in Alan J Pakula's 1990 film. Greta Scacchi starred as the doomed Carolyn, with Jeffrey Wright also making his film debut as an attorney prosecutor.

presumed innocent trailer, jake gyllenhaal and renate reinsve lie on a sofa with their arms around each other

Related: Jake Gyllenhaal's new movie is now available to watch on Prime Video UK

Gyllenhaal recently revived another established property for a streaming service, with the star collaborating with Doug Liman in Prime Video's remake of Road House . The film saw Gyllenhaal take over the role of Dalton from Patrick Swayze, charting his journey from UFC fighter to bouncer.

The remake received mixed reviews upon its release, with Digital Spy writing that the new version was a "compilation of lazy action-movie tropes that occasionally displays some of the enjoyable silliness of the original."

Presumed Innocent will premiere on Apple TV+ on June 12.

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Reporter, Digital Spy George is a freelance writer who specialises in Movies and TV. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies and Journalism from De Montfort University, in which he analysed the early works of Richard Linklater for his dissertation, he wrote for several websites for GRV Media.  His film tastes vary from blockbusters like Mission: Impossible and John Wick to international directors such as Paolo Sorrentino and Hirokazu Kore-eda, and has attended both the London and Berlin film festivals.  

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What movie did Jake Gyllenhaal get famous for? Films, TV shows and awards

Jake Gyllenhaal’s latest movie Road House , an update of the 1989 action film starring Patrick Swayze, was released in March and has already clocked over 50 million views on Prime Video . Gyllenhaal plays Dalton , an ex-UFC fighter, haunted by his past and down on his luck until he is offered a job as a bar doorman in the Florida Keys.

Gyllenhaal’s fistfight with Conor McGregor

Gyllenhaal and co-star Conor McGregor both give electrifying performances in the Doug Liman-directed remake with both gaining acclaim from the critics, with one noting: “From End of Watch to Ambulance and The Covenant , Gyllenhaal has frequently proved how good he is in action movies , and he’s typically watchable as the world’s most notorious fighter”.

He has shown he is versatile enough to play a multitude of different characters. Gyllenhaal started to get himself known in 2001 when he landed the lead role in Donnie Darko , playing a high school kid diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia whose meds give him nightmarish hallucinations. He has a lucky escape, cheating certain death when a jet engine crash lands on his bedroom - by chance, he is out sleepwalking on the local golf course.

Gyllenhaal hits the jackpot with ‘Brokeback Mountain’

The 43-year-old has had a lengthy career, spanning over three decades. He made his acting debut aged 10, as Danny Robbins, one of Billy Crystal’s kids in the 1991 Western comedy City Slickers . He made a number of short appearances during his teenage years, in movies such as Homegrown (1998) and October Sky (1999) but his big break came in 2005 when he starred as Jack Twist in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain , an adaptation of Annie Proulx’s 1997 novel.

The film is based on a short story by Annie Proulx published in New Yorker magazine in October 1997. Set in the early 1960s, it tells the tale of rodeo rider Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) - two high-school drop-out country boys with no prospects who are hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming for the summer . They forge relationship will develops, deepens then is eventually consummated.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian wrote of the film and the lead actor, “Jack, played by Gyllenhaal, whose performance, along with his presence in Sam Mendes’s forthcoming Gulf war movie Jarhead , shows that he has “ matured into one of the most charismatic actors of his generation ”.

Jake Gyllenhaal complete filmography

  • City Slickers (1991)
  • A Dangerous Woman (1993)
  • Josh and S.A.M. (1993)
  • Homegrown (1998)
  • October Sky (1999)
  • Donnie Darko (2001)
  • Bubble Boy (2001)
  • Lovely and Amazing (2001)
  • The Good Girl (2002)
  • Highway (2002)
  • Moonlight Mile (2002)
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
  • Jiminy Glick in Lalawood (2004)
  • The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (2005)
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005)
  • Proof (2005)
  • Jarhead (2005)
  • Zodiac (2007)
  • Rendition (2007)
  • Brothers (2009)
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)    
  • Love & Other Drugs (2010)
  • Source Code (2011)
  • End of Watch (2012)
  • Prisoners (2013)
  • Enemy (2013)
  • Nightcrawler (2014)
  • Accidental Love (2015)
  • Southpaw (2015)
  • Everest (2015)
  • Demolition (2015)
  • Nocturnal Animals (2016)    
  • Life (2017)
  • Okja (2017)
  • Stronger (2017)
  • Wildlife (2018)
  • The Sisters Brothers (2018)
  • Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
  • Spirit Untamed (2021)
  • The Guilty (2021)
  • Ambulance (2022)
  • Strange World (2022)
  • Guy Ritchie's The Covenant (2023)
  • Road House (2024)

*As yet untitled Guy Ritchie Harrison Ford remake action film (2024)

During his 35-year career, Gyllenhaal has appeared in 46 movies , produced five and was the executive producer and played the lead role as police officer Brian Taylor in the 2012 thriller End of Watch . Yet it was his performance as Louis ‘Lou’ Bloom a freelance cameraman of dubious morals in Dan Gilroy’s psychological thriller, Nightcrawler that ranks as his best display with Rotten Tomatoes : “Restless, visually sleek, and powered by a lithe star performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler offers dark, thought-provoking thrills. When he catches the eye of a shopworn news director (Rene Russo), Lou goes to increasingly greater lengths to catch the ‘money shot’”.

What is Jake Gyllenhaal’s net worth?

According to Celebrity Net Worth , Gyllenhaal has a net worth of $80 million . In 2017, he bought a 2,868 square feet condo in New York City for $8.63 million . For nine years, he also owned a ranch in Hollywood Hills which he purchased for $2.5 million in 2005 and sold for $3.5 million in 2014.

Another outlet, Showbizgalore , claims that Gyllenhaal earns an annual salary of $3,384,624 . He also commands high fees as a celebrity public speaker for which he charges from $100,000 to $1 million .

As for awards and industry accolades, he has once been nominated for an Oscar - as Best Supporting Actor in Brokeback Mountain in 2006 but picked up a host of awards elsewhere for that performance, including two MTV Movie & TV Awards (Best Performance and Best Kiss), National Board of Review Awards (Best Supporting Actor), Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the British Academy Film Awards and a Desert Palm Achievement Award at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards.

His portrayal as the ruthless, obsessed Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler earned him the Best Actor award at both the 2014 Dublin Film Critics’ Circle Awards and 2014 Georgia Film Critics Association Awards and saw him nominated for a Golden Globe in 2015 which ended up going to Eddie Redmayne.

The 43-year-old actor and producer has been credited in 46 movies since making his screen debut in 1991. We take a look at his career and the movies that made him a household name.


What is the difference in height and weight between McGregor and Gyllenhaal in ‘Road House’?

The pair star in a new version of the famous patrick swayze’s 80s movie that has fans wondering who is taller, conor or jake.

The pair star in a new version of the famous Patrick Swayze’s 80s movie that has fans wondering who is taller, Conor or Jake?

Jake Gyllenhaal has been acclaimed for his electrifying performance as UFC middleweight fighter Elwood Dalton in Doug Liman’s remake of the 1989 action film Road House. Dalton is an ex-UFC fighter, haunted by his past and down on his luck until he is offered a job as a bar doorman in the Florida Keys. Conor McGregor plays Knox, hired to hunt down and the two end up embroiled in a savage fistfight with one of them ending up in hospital .

McGregor confessed that Gyllenhaal was a pleasure to work with: “ Jake is a consummate professional - 75 movies made. I’m blessed to have entered into the movie alongside him. He was patient with me, he gave me guidance. We had a good rapport on set, we have a good back and forth”. The American actor, meanwhile said of his co-star, “It was great fun, I mean, right from the beginning Conor said to me that he’s a white belt in making movies and acting , and I’m here to learn. That was the way it was the whole time. But at the opposite end, I’m the white belt in the fight game - in terms of fights and what they look like, how authentic it is. It was so important that the fight fans always felt like they were watching something original and something fun ”.

Road House raked in over 50 million viewers on Prime Video during its first two weekends although some critics complained about the excessive use of CGI for the fight sequences.

Jake Gyllenhaal thought he had a chance vs Conor McGregor in arm wrestling 😂 — Happy Punch (@HappyPunch) March 19, 2024

Gyllenhaal and method acting

Gyllenhaal is known for his dramatic transformations in movie roles. For Nightcrawler , he reportedly ran 12 miles a day to get the leaned-out look of a coyote . For Southpaw , he worked out twice a day and gained 28 pounds of muscle to play the lead role of a boxer. With that in mind, it is interesting to explore the build and height difference between the two main movie protagonists .

Height and weight difference between McGregor and Gyllenhaal

McGregor , 35, renowned for his explosive fighting style and charismatic persona, stands 175 cm (5′9″) tall and weighs 66 kg (146 lbs) . With a body fat percentage of 14.1% and a BMI of 21.6, McGregor maintains a physique that exudes strength and agility, earning him a “Sexy Index” of 7.5.

On the other side stands Gyllenhaal , 43, towering at 183 cm (6′0″) and weighing 77 kg (170 lbs). Gyllenhaal, known for his roles in various Hollywood blockbusters, maintains a body fat percentage of 15.2% and a BMI of 23, with a “Sexy Index” of 6.1. His physique epitomizes tall, healthy athleticism.

So there’s quite a difference between the two in terms of height and build . Gyllenhaal is much taller and leaner than his stocky co-star although both gave as good as they got during the brutal fight scenes in Road House, as the Irish fighter explained: “I landed one punch, and he hit me with a door! Other than that, it was absolutely perfect, amazing”.


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