In case you’re going to have an implausible premise, it is advisable commit absolutely so as to pull it off. Shot Caller, a 2017 movie lately added to Netflix, does precisely that. The story of a profitable businessman who turns into a hardened gang member embroiled in high-stakes drug trafficking, the movie is a nail-biting countdown as two seemingly-mismatched storylines converge on one another. Girded by a powerful solid, well-drawn characters and an absolute dedication to the storyline it plans to inform, Shot Caller succeeds with a premise that doesn’t seem to be it ought to work on paper.
Leaping between the current day and flashbacks, we’re launched to Jacob Harlon (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), now generally known as “Cash”. He’s fierce, indignant, muscled, lined in prison-gang tattoos, and he’s being launched after serving time in a maximum-security jail. He’s well-connected, speaking with corrupt jail guards and with contingent of fellow gang members ready for him on the surface. He walks with confidence, a scarcity of worry, and absolute familiarity and luxury with the underworld we see him in.
He bears nearly no resemblance to Jacob, the person we’re proven ten years earlier — a contented, well-to-do, besuited man working in finance, dwelling in a pleasant home along with his aspiring-designer spouse Kate (Lake Bell) and lovable younger son. We see him taking part in pickup basketball and breezily discussing work along with his greatest buddy Tom (New Woman‘s Max Greenfield), a snug, carefree upper-class life. He’s acquired no trace of menace about him, and if there’s any criminality that he might sound able to, it must be securities fraud as an alternative of homicide.
A tragic night time out serves because the inflection level the place these characters start to converge. After dinner with Tom and their wives, Jacob runs a purple gentle and collides with a pickup truck. Tom is killed, and Jacob’s blood-alcohol stage is over the authorized restrict. His lawyer advises him that the choose assigned to his case is aggressive with DUI circumstances, and plans to pursue the utmost attainable costs. Immediately, he’s dealing with years in jail, grouped in with the toughest violent criminals. Towards his spouse’s need that he combat the fees, he accepts a plea deal, hoping to shortly endure sixteen months at most behind bars.
That plan goes awry nearly instantly, as he’s pressured, in basic film trend, to show himself within the jail yard. The Strolling Lifeless’s Jon Bernthal performs “Shotgun”, a member of a white-nationalist gang that provides him safety, with the searing menace he’s lengthy been identified for. Shotgun introduces Jacob to a person named Bottles, (Burn Discover’s Jeffrey Donovan), the eerily-calm, utterly-terrifying chief of the PEN1 gang. They warn Jacob that he gained’t survive as a lone wolf in jail, and inform him that he will be protected of their ranks, however that it’ll require “getting (his) fingers soiled.”
When a prison-yard riot turns lethal, Jacob’s preliminary hopes of a sixteen-month keep are changed by a sentence of seven years and a switch to a maximum-security facility. He’s not a civilian serving time for a tragic accident — he’s a gang member with blood on his fingers and a fame inside. As he’s sentenced to his new life and led out of one other courtroom, he coldly informs a sobbing Kate that “it’s over. Overlook I exist.” He cuts off all contact together with her and his son, accepting his destiny because the particular person he’s turn into.
It’s a dizzyingly fast journey from Pasadena to the jail yard, and it’s important to droop a little bit of disbelief that his fall may occur so shortly — it’s the primary season of Breaking Unhealthy condensed into the primary thirty minutes of display time — however Coster-Waldau performs each elements with seriousness and utter dedication. The story may’ve been informed strictly chronologically, exhibiting Cash’s decade-long evolution in linear trend, however the filmmakers’ option to intersperse the 2 makes it far more efficient emotionally. Inserting Cash’s present-day particular person in context along with his reluctance and incapability to withstand changing into that particular person provides a human drama that may not be there in a simple crime story.
Because the storyline progresses, we be taught the present-day stakes that may convey the person he’s immediately again into battle with the life he used to steer. The heaviest hitters — the titular “shot callers” of his gang — demand that he perform a weapons deal on the surface as soon as he’s accomplished his sentence. They threaten the protection of Kate and his son, and it’s as much as him to reconcile two the characters he’s lived as. He’s pressured to make use of the talents and savagery he’s developed in his fall from grace to guard the household that he left behind.
“The actual fact is, all of us began out as somebody’s little angel,” Bottles notes in a voiceover that soundtracks Jacob’s first true act of violence, “after which a spot like this forces us to turn into warriors or victims. Nothing in between can exist right here. And also you’ve chosen to be a warrior. Now it’s as much as you to stay one.”
Scott Hines is an architect, blogger and web person who lives in Louisville, Kentucky along with his spouse, two younger youngsters, and a small, loud canine.