Elvis Cooney (Mel Gibson) is a well-known radio host. We first meet Elvis as he says goodnight to his wife and daughter before going to work as a host for the graveyard shift. We learn that Elvis is quite rude and harsh as he interacts with various people in the workplace. He also briefly meets with upper management, who reveals that the current stats for Elvis’ time on the air are not great.
No matter, Elvis attempts to keep his head high and goes on air. However, when he begins his radio segment, where he invites callers to phone in and vent their problems, Elvis gets a caller who claims he is in Elvis’ home and threatens to kill his family. Elvis has no choice but to play a series of games to save his family and hopefully learn the identity of the mystery man pulling all the strings.
On the Line is best described as a thriller. Our basic introduction to Elvis shows us a complete understanding of the type of man he is when it comes to using harsh words and selfishness towards others. Thankfully, the plot gets underway quickly. I’ve always been a Mel Gibson fan, and he is the best part of the film. He carries the many moments of his character being deeply serious, emotional, and even sometimes loud and outrageous. However, On the Line has many disappointing factors.
As a thriller, On the Line builds on a central mystery that I found to be highly predictable early in the film. As the movie progressed, my suspicions were further confirmed, leaving me hoping I wasn’t correct because it made the entire movie ridiculous and unrewarding. Unfortunately, this is how I felt as the credits rolled. The script overall is pretty cringeworthy, and at many times the conversations feel uncomfortable and unnatural. Most importantly, conversations feel unbelievable. Many plot details are questionable and impossible to accept. The lack of police involvement with Elvis’s caller is just one of my many issues.
I found the majority of the cinematography to be okay. Seeing Elvis deliver many tense moments on the air with emotion is genuinely satisfying. Still, some shots throughout the film seem a little shaky, especially when Elvis is investigating the radio building and completing the many tasks requested by the unknown caller. The audio score is also unfitting, including the opening credits as we see Elvis driving to work in his stunning car.
Overall, while I’m generally a fan of actor Mel Gibson, this is a significant disappointment. I found the film to be torturous. While beginning with a solid introduction and mystery, the big reveals are highly predictable and ridiculous. Mel Gibson is easily the best part of the film, delivering emotional and loud fun moments, but the script is uncomfortable and awkward, especially between characters. As a remake, this is easily one of the year’s biggest letdowns.