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TIFF Movie Review: The Guilty

We’ve thankfully moved past the era when every single hit movie not in the English language is granted a Hollywood remake. The advent of streaming has made the original films, which would usually be granted limited theatrical releases, far more accessible, making it all the more baffling why producers would still be lining up to make a carbon copy of something that already exists. For remakes to justify their existence now, they have to boldly transform the material so it becomes near unrecognizable — something along the lines of Martin Scorsese taking the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy, and condensing it into the mightily entertaining “The Departed.” But this is rarely the route taken; recent Hollywood is littered with a string of flops, from Spike Lee’s take on “Oldboy” to a remake of “The Secret in Their Eyes,” that made less impact culturally and financially than the films they were based on, every review just urging people to watch the original instead.

Unsurprisingly, a faithful remake of something that was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (now Best International Film) just three years ago does equally little to satisfy, replicating the plot beat for beat, with the biggest change being the city it takes place in. And in this case, changing the setting doesn’t change a single thing about the overarching drama, as the high concept of “The Guilty” is that it takes place entirely with a 911 call dispatch center. Director Antoine Fuqua, best known for action thrillers like “Training Day,” tries to make this a more stylish film than the original procedural, but there’s only so much you can do to add a unique polish to a movie carried entirely by a lead performance and plethora of plot twists that are heard and not seen. You may very well enjoy it if you’ve not seen the original — but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a pointless filmmaking exercise.

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