With Game of Thrones having just returned to HBO with new episodes this week, all eyes are on the man who plays Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a fine actor who has landed another current project also definitely worth checking out. In the new film Shot Caller, which had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival and now is debuting on DirecTV’s premium service before getting a theatrical and VOD run starting August 18, Coster-Waldau could not be more different from his GoT character.
As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), as Jacob — a successful businessman, husband and father-turned-hardcore prisoner — he is almost playing two distinct people. The distance between the suburban family man and this take-no-prisoners prisoner is startling, and the Danish star deftly plays it all to the hilt. What happens to him is, on the surface at least, entirely believable if you can get past the fact that a man with no prior record and sterling reputation in the community would land in a maximum-security prison after conviction of a DUI-related death of a passenger in the car he was driving. But if you can’t, there’s no movie, so let’s go with it and the fact that instead of rehabilitating him, the prison system turns Jacob into a hardcore racist gang member in his only bid to survive these circumstances.
When the film opens, we see Jacob getting out after 10 years in prison, but flashbacks to his earlier life paint a much different picture than you would expect. He had it all: great wife and kids, sunny attitude, successful career, good friends. One night while driving back from a couples dinner where he’d had some drinks, Jacob gets into an accident that kills one of the passengers, who happens to be his best friend. Arrested for DUI, he later is sentenced to prison and things careen out of control — not only in his personal life, with a shattered family and career, but also in his attitude as his experience in prison teaches him only one thing: the trick to survival. That includes joining a vile gang and soon climbing the ladder to success in a system where only the strong seem to make it. Once he is out, Jacob simply resorts to a new life of crime and that sends him right back into big-time trouble. In some ways he reminds me of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, another suburban family man slowly drawn into an escalating world of crime.
Although this film has trappings of a lot of prison films and shows you might have seen, writer-director Ric Roman Waugh has more on his mind and seems to be pointing out that the system can suck you in and lead you down the wrong path. It is no accident that socially conscious Participant Media is involved in the production of a movie that originally was caught up in Relativity’s financial woes but now will finally be released in theaters by Saban after its monthlong exclusive DirecTV run. Bold Films also was a key production entity. Producers are Jonathan King, Michael Litvak, Gary Michael Walters and Waugh. The outstanding supporting cast also includes Lake Bell as Jacob’s wife, Jon Bernthal and a fine Jeffrey Donovan as one of his key prison influencers.
Do you plan to see Shot Caller? Let us know what you think.