Shot Caller review: Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau swaps Westeros for prison in this eye-opening and brutal feature.
Shot Caller review by Kat Hughes.
This Friday for many there is only one film that matters at the cinema, Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, but it isn’t the only new release out. Altitude have taken the bold move to release their latest movie, Shot Caller, the same weekend as Rian Johnson’s take on the popular space opera. Granted, Shot Caller is screening only in a limited amount of cinemas, but if you fancy something a little less mainstream, then this may very well be the film for you.
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Games of Thrones) and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Punisher), Shot Caller tells the sorry tale of Coster-Waldau’s Jacob, a typical American businessman who finds himself in prison after a tragic car accident. Once inside, Jacob finds himself changing in order to survive and years later, as he’s released, his family find that he is far from the man they used to know. Can Jacob turn his life around, or will he simply fall through the cracks like so many before?
Typically a prison movie follows our protagonist as they go from hardened criminal to functioning member of society, here the reverse is the case. When we first meet Jacob, he’s a squeaky clean business professional with the perfect house, wife and young son. As the narrative progresses, the viewer follows Jacob’s metamorphosis into ‘Money’, a mean, dangerous, and heavily tattooed character whom soon works his way up the criminal ladder. With Shot Caller, director Ric Roman Waugh is sending a clear message that prison life can do just as much damage as good. It would be interesting to watch Shot Caller side-by-side with a more traditional redemption tale like American History X.
Much like American History X, and television show Banshee, Shot Caller is gritty and grimy in the way that it has been filmed. There’s none of the expected Hollywood sheen here, everything is seedy, sweaty, and coated in dirt. It feels completely unwholesome and therefore eerily true to life.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is almost unrecognisable as broker-turned-brawler Jacob, and is far removed from his more recognisable role of Jaime Lannister. Jacob isn’t as charismatic as our favourite one-handed hand of the Queen, and actually is a lot harder to like. It’s frustrating watching a man destroy his life in such cataclysmic ways, surely Jacob could survive on the inside without immediately changing everything about himself?
One of the most powerful, and interesting prison stories since American History X, Shot Caller is eye-opening and brutal. The story shines a huge spotlight on the ‘how to make a criminal’ nature of modern prisons. This certainly isn’t your typical prison tale.
Shot Caller review by Kat Hughes, December 2017.
Shot Caller arrives in limited UK cinemas from Friday 15th December.