On The Line (2022) Movie Review – This is one movie you should hang up on

This is one movie you should hang up on

Mel Gibson hasn’t starred in many decent movies over the last few years so expectations were fairly low when I sat down with On The Line, a recent thriller that debuted on Amazon Prime in some regions.

Gibson stars as LA radio host Elvis Cooney, who we quickly discover is a bit of a prankster when he plays a cruel joke on Dylan (William Moseley), his show’s new intern. It’s clear from this that he loves to make people feel uncomfortable but after the movie’s opening few scenes, where we learn just how nasty he can be, the tables are turned when he is targeted by one of his callers.

The caller’s name is Gary, a man who claims to be at Cooney’s home holding the show host’s wife and daughter hostage. Cooney doesn’t take him seriously at first but when he hears his family (and a gunshot) on the other end of the line, he realises that Gary poses a very real threat to the people he holds dear.

Cooney tries to de-escalate the situation before Gary does the unthinkable but in the process, secrets about his own past are revealed and the lives of his colleagues are later put in danger.

Gibson turns in a good performance as the pressured radio host and the first half of the movie is actually quite decent, as director and writer Romuald Boulanger manages to ratchet up the tension nicely. There were moments during the verbal exchanges between the narcissistic joker and the vengeful caller when I was on the edge of my seat and as such, the movie transcended my initial low expectations.

But despite the promising setup, the movie becomes increasingly ridiculous the more it goes on. It soon becomes clear that Gary isn’t in Cooney’s home at all, so this undermines an entire portion of the story. This twist in the plot becomes the catalyst for a cat-and-mouse game as Cooney and Dylan attempt to track down the abductor but these scenes, which take the focus away from the single location of the radio studio, are rarely believable and they suck away the tension that had been built up previously.

As such, you shouldn’t be surprised if your interest in the movie eventually starts to wane, despite the committed performances by the cast. Gibson and co manage to elevate the material they have been given but their best efforts are undone by Boulanger, who fails to bring the movie to a satisfying end. There are a couple of decent sequences during the movie’s second half, such as a sequence on top of the radio station where Cooney is given a chilling ultimatum, but there is nothing to match the suspenseful scenes that came before.

Still, the lack of tension during the final section isn’t the movie’s biggest problem. As the movie draws to a close, there are two massive twists and neither of them make a lot of sense. They undermine every plot point that happened previously and if you’re anything like me, you will likely feel a deep sense of frustration when these twists unfold.

There’s nothing wrong with a movie that gives us a surprise ending – The Sixth Sense, Se7en, and the original Planet Of the Apes are just some of the movies that are fondly remembered because of their final twists – but the revelations within On The Line infuriate rather than impress. I was genuinely annoyed by the movie’s resolution and while I kind of understand why Boulanger ended his story the way he did, you will likely share my anger when the rug is pulled out from beneath you.

This could have been the movie to bring Mel Gibson back into the spotlight but instead, it is yet another failure that will do little to re-ignite his dwindling career. 2020’s Fatman did much to win him favour after a series of critical flops but he has continued to make bad career choices in the years since. He isn’t the only ageing actor in recent times to take on paycheque roles – John Travolta, John Cusack, and Nicolas Cage have also sacrificed quality for money – but like those actors, Gibson is a talented actor who is capable of so much more.

Ultimately, On The Line is a missed opportunity. It could have been a decent thriller but after a strong first half, it quickly starts to lose its way. Therefore, this is probably a movie you should ignore, even if you are a fan of its lead actor. If your friend calls you up and recommends it to you, that phone call is probably one you should quickly hang up on. If only Gibson had done the same when he was offered this joke of a movie!


Read More: On The Line Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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