The Jake Gyllenhaal Netflix Thriller That Will Get Your Heart Racing

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty

If you like thrillers, then you’ve probably noticed most of them are overly bland and (if we’re being honest) completely devoid of actual thrills. That’s why we were so happy to discover the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller The Guilty on Netflix. This film is star-studded, tightly written, and guaranteed to keep your heart beating nearly through your chest all the way through the ending credits.

A remake of a 2018 Danish film, The Guilty starring Jake Gyllenhaal is currently streaming on Netflix.

Those who enjoy international cinema may do a doubletake when they first see the title of this edge-of-your-seat thriller. That’s because The Guilty is a 2021 film that serves as a remake of a 2018 Danish movie with the same title. While there are some who deeply prefer the original to the remake, we like to think of The Guilty a bit like we think about The Office…at the end of the day, we love both versions for very different reasons.

This remake of The Guilty is directed by Antoine Fuqua, and while he does a killer job (more on this later), thriller fans who are on the fence about streaming this movie will be pleasantly surprised to discover that Nic Pizzolatto wrote the screenplay. This writer has several impressive credits but is best known for creating the hit HBO series True Detective, and the first season of that show is among the finest episodic thrillers ever created.

jake gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty

What, exactly, is The Guilty about? In the film, Jake Gyllenhaal plays an LAPD officer who works evenings at the 911 call center while grappling with demons of his very own. When he gets a call from a young woman who has been abducted, he scrambles to find her…a task made more difficult by the relative lack of details the woman is able to provide. His character won’t stop at anything to save her life, but it doesn’t take long for him to discover there may be more to this case than meets the eye.

Part of what makes The Guilty so interesting is that only two other actors join Gyllenhaal directly onscreen: Christina Vidal and Adrian Martinez. But the nature of the film means that we hear plenty of other characters by voice alone, including some big names you will surely recognize. Some of our favorite actors providing voicework to this film include Bill Burr, Paul  Dano, Peter Sarsgaard, and Ethan Hawke.

Despite the small on-screen cast, The Guilty was well-received by critics, with a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Another detail we love about The Guilty concerns its production. The film was made amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was even a close call where the director feared that he might be infected. Once he tested negative, though, director Antoine Fuqua directed everything from a special van in order to stay on schedule and keep everyone safe, and he ended up creating a movie with such beautiful aesthetics that you’d never know its production was affected to such a degree by COVID-19.

jake gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal in The Guilty

And we’re not the only ones who think so: on Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 74 percent critical rating. Critics praised The Guilty for its tension that only seems to ratchet up as the film goes on. Additionally, the critics praised Gyllenhaal (who also produced the film) for his amazing acting that causes anyone who watches the movie to be instantly glued to their screens.

The Guilty features the voices of plenty of famous stars, including Peter Sarsgaard, Bill Burr, and Ethan Hawke.

Fortunately, The Guilty isn’t just a pretty film populated with pretty faces and famous voices. It’s a movie that asks the audience to come along on the worst kind of misadventure that a police officer can have, all while asking us to judge and perhaps absolve the protagonist for the past mistakes that have so thoroughly checkered his past. Absolution, action, and redemption…what more could you really want from a thriller?

Ultimately, The Guilty is more than just a guilty (ahem) pleasure: it’s a movie that makes the absolute most out of a tightly-paced script, and it knows how to use the limits of its pandemic-era production to create an atmosphere of palpable claustrophobia. This isn’t just some film we recommend you watch on a rainy day. For those who love thrillers, The Guilty is destined to become something they watch each year or whenever they need to get their heart rate up.