Combustible Celluloid Review - On the Line (2022), Romuald Boulanger, Romuald Boulanger, Mel Gibson, William Moseley, Alia Seror-O'Neill, Paul Spera, Nadia Farés, Enrique Arce, Kevin Dillon
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With: Mel Gibson, William Moseley, Alia Seror-O'Neill, Paul Spera, Nadia Farés, Enrique Arce, Kevin Dillon
Written by: Romuald Boulanger
Directed by: Romuald Boulanger
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some violent content
Running Time: 104
Date: 11/03/2022

On the Line (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Radio Knaves

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Using the idea of a radio show to get across much of its action, this low budget thriller might have worked had it not made several missteps that will send viewers out feeling frustrated and annoyed.

"Shock" radio DJ Elvis Cooney (Mel Gibson) reports to work for another midnight shift, where he regularly answers calls and talks with people. His producer Mary (Alia Seror-O'Neill) is there, and a new kid, Dylan (William Moseley), is working the booth. He receives a call from "Gary," who says he's going to do something terrible that night.

Elvis soon learns that Gary has his own wife and daughter at gunpoint, and wants revenge for something Elvis did in the past. When they discover that Gary is actually in the building, and has rigged up several explosive devices, it's a race against time as they try to find him and save lives.

Indeed, by setting things all in one place and not showing the villain or the hostages for the first two-thirds of the running time, On the Line saves a great deal on its production budget. But there are problems. The Elvis character is supposed to be a "shock jock," or basically a loudmouth that says controversial things, but instead he's more like a therapist, listening to problems and offering encouragement. This is fine, of course, but hardly dramatic or thrilling.

Outside of Elvis, the other characters don't have much to do, including co-star Kevin Dillon, who is only there to have an argument with Elvis about time slots. But the villain is especially obnoxious, giving one of those standard "evil crazy guy" performances that feels so utterly generic. Then, one might ask, given that all this is occurring during Elvis's show, and his listeners are tuning in, is it good radio? Or is it just a bunch of huffing and puffing as characters run all over the building? Would listeners tune out? (They should.)

But the worst is yet to come as the movie springs not one but two "twists" on us, both far more irritating than clever (and which contradict previous events in the movie). Rather than cheers from its viewers, On the Line is far more likely to elicit radio silence.

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