Director: Ric Roman Waugh
I have said this in other reviews, but it is worth mentioning again, sometimes a movie lacking monsters, tigers and bears (oh my), can almost be considered a horror movie in spite of the fact that it is missing some key horror elements. Such movies are usually true to life, showing the horrors of real life and just how easily we can lose it all and end up in our own version of a scary movie. Such a movie is Shot Caller, where one poor decision upends the protagonist’s life, a decision he may never be able to recover from.
Shot Caller is a story of how a Wall Street yuppie named Jacob (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has one glass of wine too many and ends up running a run light, causing an accident. The accident results in the loss of life and because there was alcohol involved, Jacob must serve time… hard time. Jacob must decide just how far he will go to survive behind bars even if it means adding additional years to his sentence. After making tough decisions for years, can Jacob ever be the man he was before his incarceration?
Shot Caller is a story we have seen before, the corruption of an innocent man who is forced to commit heinous acts in order to survive. The movie follows Jacob as he is out of jail and flashes back through all the events that led to his incarceration and survival in prison. Telling the story in that manner was a good call by Waugh, who likely recognizes that prison movies have been done a million times by now, so keeping the presentation of the material fresh was the only angle he had at ensuring the audience stays engaged through the 2 hour run time. The film hides little about the difficulties of prison life, from the crimes committed behind bars to the constant fear of violence and death.
Overall, Shot Caller is a good film and well acted, if unspectacular. The plot tends to be a bit fantastical in regards to Jacob’s ascension in his gang, especially the very ending of the film, but overall the film feels true to its source material. This isn’t a film with a particularly broad audience, but if you are in the mood for a good movie about prison life, you may be interested in giving this one a watch. The film was released on VOD and in cinemas simultaneously, it may be an interesting experiment as to the future of how we consume film media.