Overnight talkback radio if you have ever heard it can be unusual to say the least, insomniac or shift working listeners calling in with an assortment of eclectic subjects prompted by the host or whatever the news topics of the day may be.
This thriller takes it one step further when the family of the anchor is threatened on-air.
Mel Gibson is veteran presenter Elvis Cooney, despite a younger demographic moving in, he remains one of the most popular and controversial LA shock jocks around. One momentous evening which happens to his birthday, Elvis is having to deal with an unannounced visitor in the foyer downstairs and an array of weird callers including one intimidation of the highest order, kidnapping his family at home whist he listens to the pleas of help.
It is as unbelievable and outrageous as it sounds, On The Line, somehow manages to hold your attention with a fine lead Mel on fire and great off the chain circumstances building up to a finale that may either satisfy or be deluded by.
Keeping the offender on the line for police to track and mostly establish if it’s a hoax or reality is the skill Elvis has to maintain throughout.
French director Romuald Boulanger keeps it at a rapid pace using enclosed spaces and the magic of live-feed audio to build suspense, whilst additional subplots especially for show producer Mary (a triumphant performance by Alia Seror-O’Neill) and Elvis’ fellow host, shady colleague Justin (smarmy and profound Kevin Dillon) are dynamite.
As a kind of anti-hero, also with the most to do, say or react to, mighty Mel Gibson is several levels above everyone else here.
An intriguing, excellent performance combining grumpy old man persona and quick witted, jump to attention professional rage for the microphone. He’s great.
Although sensibility is pushed to the brink, On The Line, is well orchestrated from all involved, a low budget escapade worth dialling in to.
Thriller | USA, 2022 | 15 | Prime Video | 3rd February 2023 (UK) | Vertigo Releasing | Dir. Romuald Boulanger | Mel Gibson, William Moseley, Alia Seror-O’Neill, Paul Spera, Enrique Arce, Kevin Dillon
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