Despite attempts at resurrection over the years, Mel Gibson’s career has largely been in neutral for more than a decade, so it’s perhaps ironic that in ‘On The Line’ he plays a talk radio host (Elvis Cooney) confined to the midnight to dawn slot, with faltering ratings.
While on air one night, Cooney takes a call from Gary (Paul Spera), who insists the host needs to learn that actions have consequences. He reveals that he’s at Cooney’s house and is about to take his wife and young daughter hostage, and after initially disregarding the call as a prank, it soon becomes obvious Gary is deadly serious.
What ensues is a cat-and-mouse game between host and caller, with Cooney unable to leave the radio studio’s offices – which have been laden with explosives. And it’s all playing out live on the air, with listeners following the distressing story as it develops and bit-players like producers and security guards entering the life-or-death struggle.
‘On The Line’ succeeds in that it maintains the suspense a thriller like this requires for a good chunk of the movie, offering a few twists and turns that keep things interesting and not too monotonous.
But there’s probably one or two too many of those twists, and the ending (which always sits as a possibility in the back of your mind) is something of a letdown. Indeed, it’s almost as if writer and director Romuald Boulanger didn’t quite know how to bring his grand idea to a satisfactory conclusion so we got something that falls in the ‘blah’ category.
Gibson is solid in the fear he shows when he discovered Gary’s intentions are real, but one does feel we’ve probably passed the used by date on seeing the 66-year-old actor run around like he’s on the set of an 80s action movie. Alira Serror-O’Neill is a highlight as producer Mary, though she doesn’t have nearly enough screen time.
All in all, ‘On The Line’ is a solid B-Grade movie.
See this movie at Hoyts Penrith.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.