Tea Reviews: “Shot Caller” (Spoilers)

I don’t think I can get myself to give a video review for the film, “Shot Caller“. But, for sure, I give it a solid rating because, for me, I care the most about story content, story execution, VFX, cast, and impressions. Personally, nothing else matters.

Very Intense Film.

A bit about me, I’m an educated writer/director with a focus on storytelling. If you’ve seen my past reviews, I root for minority stories/cast/crew, stories less told, and the like. I’m more grass-roots, edgy, emotional, and action type of gal. I, personally, write more science fiction and fantasy, loving technology and having an edge for mystical fantasy and intense battles for good and evil, for one can’t exist without the other. It’s more of a balance thing, I think.

Shot Caller Review:

Story  [1]

Jacob kills his best friend, Tom, in a DUI accident and is sent to jail when he pleads guilty. Jennifer, Tom’s wife, then sues Jacob and Kate for the wrongful death of Tom. Which makes life difficult for Kate and Joshua, Jacob’s son. As Jacob survives in the jail, doing as he is told and rising through the ranks to become a hardcore prison thug, Jacob is sent to where death row inmates reside. Kate divorces Jacob and Jacob meets the shot caller. When he is released, he is given instructions on what to do when he is out. The shot caller threatens to kill Jacob’s family if he disobeys.

Jacob does as he is told when he gets out. He kills a snitch and lets another live. He finds a way to do what he is told and help the authorities because he is, still at his core, a good man. When sent back to prison, Jacob takes out the shot caller, taking his place and spending his time on his own, thinking of the safety of his family, who has finally agreed to move on without him in their lives.

Execution  [2]

I don’t enjoy jumping back and forth because of how linear my mind is. Left with several unanswered questions, thoughts, and incomplete sequences in my mind, I blame the editing style. I found the hand-held camera moments quite memorable, the drama between the men easy to relate to, and the overall cinematography to be very telling of the story. Giving the feeling of an endless struggle, where prison is the only place they can ever be, and the film executes it very well. The warm to cold lighting shift was pushing my comfort levels, which proved to be a part of their overall design.

V/S FX  [3]

The blood was… intense. There was QUITE a bit of blood. Special effects in this film was the COUNTLESS bloody scenes. Seeing how it changes Jacob as time passes, the activities, along with the psychological change that goes with it. Visually, the shift is obvious, the visual cues give it away. But the additional visual effects added to enhance the darkness within the jails really pushed my range of blood. In TV shows, there’s plenty these days, but this is more blood spattering, pooling, and the like. All of this is difficult to do correctly, but they did it well enough.

I have to give credit, also, to sound design due to their elaborate settings. I don’t mean the score because there was A LOT of bass in it, so much we had to turn it down to hear the soft voices of the actors. Perhaps it was our set up, but there was a bit too much music sometimes. Despite that, it did make the moments of silence stand out, and ring in our ears. Very impressive and I liked how it added to the feelings of the film.

Cast  [4]

JAIME LANNISTER!! It was weird seeing Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the accountant turned prison shot caller. Especially with “Game of Thrones” back in action… But, there he was! Lake Bell was a great supporting lead female! This film, definitely, adds to her expansive career. Seeing Jeffrey Donovan was of the stranger parts in this film. From “Burn Notice” to “Shot Caller”, how interesting. But, my list of recognized actors was confused when I saw Max Greenfield as Tom, but he’s not in the credits! (It was him, right?) What a strange thing. Not to mention the added list of names less seen as the inmates and the world around Jacob.

Impressions  [5]

There is quite a bit of a hierarchy in the jail system. That much, I did not enjoy. The fact a young Black man is raped during Jacob’s first night there. And, how Jacob learns to sneak stuff into the jail through his butt hole. How the guards are so easily bribed and how powerful the prison gangs are? This is all a bit much for me to handle and believe that our authorities are letting this go.

Overall, I’m not eager to watch this film again. I was entranced the entire time but, I felt a bit overwhelmed most of the time. Many of my questions went unanswered. Perhaps in a trance, I watched the movie, was quiet, and absorbed as much as I could.

In the end, I felt disgusted.

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