Jake Gyllenhaal is probably my favourite actor at the moment, so anything he stars in will grab my attention. This latest has him as a troubled LAPD cop doing a night shift at a 911 call centre. When he receives a call from a frightened sounding woman giving the impression she’s been abducted, he decides to make it his mission to save her.
This is one of those single location movies, and I have often felt despite the limitations of the concept, these can be more engrossing that you might expect. The same can be said here, with a focused, intense script cleverly putting the viewer into various situations where they have to picture a scene or characters only going by a voice or how Gyllenhaal’s character interacts with them. It’s very effective and I’m guessing will be different for each viewer, with them having different ideas of what certain characters look like etc. It’s a way of telling a story that lives or dies based on how much attention you pay and how you picture events you don’t get to see. Thankfully, Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) squeezes every ounce of tension and drama out of the idea, so that the your efforts are worth it.
Jake Gyllenhaal is very convincing, delivering a character with more than a few problems of his own. I certainly sympathised with him even if some of his actions were occasionally questionable. So I came away from this rather impressed … and quite emotionally exhausted. Check it out.
Ensemble character pieces like this can be very rewarding; multiple plot threads that effect one another, leading to a powerful conclusion. Movies like Pulp Fiction and the multi-oscar winning Crash are fine examples of this, and so the question here is – can this entry offer up the same?
RichardGere is a patrol cop nearing retirement, whose career has all been about avoiding danger, leaving him more of an empty shell than that of a Cop with something to be proud of. DonCheadle is an undercover cop questioning his loyalties to his gangster friend and his duties as a Police Officer, whilst EthanHawke is a desperate detective with money problems, who finds himself turning to increasingly dangerous methods in order to move house and help his asthmatic, pregnant wife.
As the movie progressed, I found myself initially absorbed by both Don Cheadle’s situation and that of Gere, but Ethan Hawk’s actions just puzzled me, considering his situation wasn’t exactly life and death. It blighted what is otherwise a well acted and mildly-gripping thriller, with a particularly strong turn from Cheadle, who I have always enjoyed. Even the washed up has-been Gere was good, if a touch difficult to sympathise with.
Director AntoineFuqua’s well-shot and stylish movie seems to have aspirations to be the next Oscar-magnet, but with characters that are mostly unlikable, a smattering of clichés and a message than clearly isn’t saying much more than ‘its a dangerous job being a cop’, this really doesn’t offer up anything we haven’t seen done a lot better elsewhere.
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