The Netflix streaming service released another exclusive – “The Guilty” with Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role. Director Antoine Fuqua directed a remake of the Danish film of the same name. Have you seen the movie but still have a lot of questions? Then do not waste time in vain and read the detailed description, analysis and explanation of the plot and ending. Beware, there are spoilers in the text!
A brief and complete retelling of the plot of the film “The guilty” for those who missed something
The Guilty movie opens with us being introduced to disgraced police officer Joe Baylor (as we later learn, he is a former detective under investigation and awaiting a court decision on his criminal case). Since the troubled officer is no longer welcome in the police department, Joe works part-time in the 911 dispatch service on the night shift. All night long he receives calls from victims in the 911 Rescue Service and independently decides what to do – send a police squad, call an ambulance, or persuade another alcoholic to oversleep.
The current situation is complicated by the fact that forest fires are raging near Los Angeles and the city is shrouded in acrid thick smoke. Emergency services work without rest and wear and tear, so there is a rather nervous atmosphere in the Rescue Service.
The situation is turned upside down when Joe takes on another challenge. The woman who called the emergency number – Emily – is talking to her child. At first, Joe doesn’t understand what’s going on and thinks the woman made a mistake. But then he realizes that she is crying. The point is that Emily calls 911 in secret – all the while she pretends to be talking to her daughter Abby. Emily seems to have been kidnapped by an unknown man. And then Joe asks the caller to continue to pretend that she is talking to her daughter, and begins to ask leading questions.
Obviously, Joe does not have complete information: Emily has little to tell in such a difficult situation, and the location of the woman can only be determined approximately – thanks to the cell tower to which she connected during the call. But, obeying her instincts, Joe tries to help the kidnapped woman in every possible way. First, he sends an on-duty patrol – one of the rare free cars – to the track to try and find the white van. Secondly, he calls Emily’s house and talks to her daughter Abby – in the process, Joe learns that the girl is alone at home with her younger brother Oliver, and her mother was actually kidnapped by her father, Henry. And thirdly, Joe turns to his former partner Rick for help, who, in addition, has to testify in his defense in court in the morning.
Patrolmen stop a white van, but it turns out to be a different car. Joe then calls the police squad to Emily’s house to look after her children. But suddenly it turns out that the girl Abby is covered in blood, and her brother Oliver is dead. Brutally killed.
Joe Baylor literally goes crazy. He repeatedly tries to contact Emily, because he understands that the woman was in the hands of her convicted maniac husband who was released from prison. Joe asks Rick’s ex-partner to visit suspect Henry’s house to find out more about the killer and kidnapper’s possible motives. And also in order to understand where he can take his ex-wife.
In parallel, the second storyline develops. The bottom line is that Joe is accused of exceeding official authority – and they are trying to put him in jail. Until the very end, we don’t really know if the main character is guilty or not. But, judging by the fact that the FBI is dealing with the case, and he agreed with his partner on the “correct testimony.” it’s clearly not clean. In addition, Joe’s wife left and took her daughter with her.
In the third act, after many adventures that Joe has in the control room, he receives another call from Emily. Joe persuades her to try to arrange an accident on the highway – to pull the hand (parking) brake lever. But the plan doesn’t work, and Henry locks his ex-wife in a dark van. The woman then dials 911 again and Joe tries not only to calm the victim, but also persuades her to attack Henry after the car stops at the destination. Emily is scared and crying, but the rescue operator convinces her that her tyrant ex-husband deserved his fate. Emily ends up hitting Henry over the head with a brick.
What was actually shown in the finale of the thriller “The guilty” and how to understand the ending?
At the end of the thriller “The guilty” we are waiting for several shocking plot twists at once.
Firstly. we understand that Joe was horribly wrong: the point is that the former police officer did not have all the information and did not know the context of what was happening. We are shown that Rick, Joe’s ex-partner, illegally enters Henry’s apartment and finds documents and bills from the psychiatric hospital. The bottom line is that Emily suffers from paranoid schizophrenia – and when the family ran out of money, she was discharged from the hospital. And in fact, she killed her little son Oliver, because it seemed to her that “snakes” wound up in his stomach – she tried to cut them out with a knife.
Secondly, Henry, Emily’s ex-husband, is not a villain, but a victim of circumstances. When he came home to his ex-wife, he saw a terrible picture: a crazy woman killed their youngest child. The point is that Henry was in a panic and couldn’t think of anything better than to kidnap his crazy ex-wife and take her back to the psychiatric hospital. And Henry asked his daughter Abby not to enter her brother’s bedroom precisely so that she would not see a terrible picture. All this Henry, a former criminal, himself tells Joe on the phone – after his wife attacks him and runs away.
And thirdly, we learn that Joe is not a hero, but rather a villain. We are shown that he is talking to Emily again (after her escape) and she admits that she wants to jump from the overpass when she realizes what she has done. The mother, who has come to her senses and distraught with grief, is going to go to her son. But Joe tries to talk the woman out of committing suicide. And he confesses to her on the phone that he is also a murderer.
Then, almost at the very end of the film “Guilty”, we learn that Joe, during one of his duties with his partner Rick, killed a young guy who at that time was only 19 years old. Just because he got angry and tried to teach a lesson. Of course, the corrupt American police tried to hush up the case, but the public learned about police brutality in Los Angeles. And then began a long and detailed investigation. Joe, along with his partner Rick, tried to convince the investigation that they were acting according to the charter, and Joe killed the young guy solely for the purpose of self-defense. But the filmmakers make it clear to us that Joe feels guilty about what happened and can no longer live a normal life. Can’t even sleep anymore. Turns out he’s really guilty.
At the end, Joe calls Emily, but she does not pick up the phone. It is assumed that she committed suicide – jumped from the overpass onto the highway. But then the patrol dispatcher picks up the phone and informs Joe that Emily is alive and in the hands of the police. In addition, at the very end, the head of the 911 dispatch service informs the main character that Oliver survived – the child is in intensive care, the doctors were on time. It turns out that Joe managed to partially atone for his guilt and atone for some of the sins: if not for his harshness, stubbornness and determination, the child would probably have died from the stab wounds received.
At the very end of “Guilty,” Joe is in a toilet stall experiencing the effects of nervous stress and overexertion, and then calls Rick for the last time. The former police detective asks his partner to step back from the plan and retract his previous testimony. And he told in court, at the final hearing, the whole truth. Joe understands that there will be consequences – and he will have to answer for his crime. And even if the main character does not want to go to prison at all, he decides to take responsibility and throw off the stone from his soul. The film ends with Joe calling a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, who has been pestering him from the very beginning, to tell the whole truth about what happened many months ago.
After the ending and the conclusion of both storylines, “Guilty” gives the audience an epilogue. It tells that former LAPD detective Joe Baylor confessed to the murder. All celebrating the victory of society over corruption in the ranks of the American police. Has justice prevailed?
In fact, you can understand and explain the finale of the thriller “Guilty” as you like. On the one hand, Joe not only repented, but confessed to the murder. The committed crime did not go unpunished, which means that justice has at least partially triumphed. And good won? On the other hand, the main character is a very ambiguous person. And even if he is really guilty, at the same time he is a hero. Yes, even though Joe made a few mistakes in just one night, at the same time he saved many lives at once.
Perhaps this is how the ending should be understood. The authors directly say that ideal people do not exist. And let all of us sooner or later and one way or another be responsible for our actions and face their consequences, we cannot divide the world into black and white, and also think exclusively in absolute terms like “evil” and “good”. As we can see, sometimes even criminals and scoundrels are able to perform feats and save people’s lives. Therefore, it is worth refraining from condemning and hanging habitual labels.
The meaning of the film “The guilty”
The interactivity of the picture is determined by the specifics of the storyline. When the action takes place predominantly in one room, tension is created through close interaction with the imagination of the audience. And the director managed to create the necessary level of tension, everyone who watches the film creates his own picture of what is happening.
The plot impulses skillfully stir up the interest of the viewer, and the intertwining lines of the detective story with Iben and the central problem of the protagonist itself allow you not to get tired of observing the external circumstances that do not change too often in the picture. The mysterious case is revealed to the audience in the last minutes of the film, which makes the ending extraordinary and thought-provoking.