Shot Caller

The grim crime drama Shot Caller completes a trilogy from director Ric Roman Waugh that began with 2008’s Felon and continued with 2013’s Snitch. The story follows in nonlinear fashion the metamorphosis of an investor (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who, after a drunk driving accident, is sentenced to prison, where assumes a new identity as “Money”, a hardened and brutal criminal. Money’s conflicting loyalties to his country, himself, his family, and his Aryan prison gang are tested when after release he is tasked with illegally selling a cache of AK-47s from Afghanistan. Location shooting and intensely invested performances in all of the roles – with particularly high marks going to Coster-Waldau and Lake Bell, who plays his wife – imbue Shot Caller with an uncomfortable authenticity and hoist it over the top as a must-see prison movie. Welcome echoes of Breaking Bad are audible, too, in the elements of drugs, white nationalist thugs, Albuquerque locations, and the central character’s transformation from straight-laced dork to crime lord.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Shot Caller is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4. Anti-drug. Drinking and driving destroys Money’s life and kills one of his friends. The balloon-up-the-ass mule transport method of selling dope in prison also works wonders at deglamorizing the subject.

3. Anti-war. Casualties are referenced, and there is also the sense that military service facilitates a veteran’s transition into gang life, with the war being brought home in more ways than one. Shot Caller is careful, too, never to glorify its violence, always depicting it as abrupt and unpleasant.

2. Anti-racist. With suspected Israeli agent Haim Saban producing, it should come as little surprise that Shot Caller, whatever its authenticity, joins the ranks of films like Green Room (2015) and Imperium (2016) in seeking to keep an outmoded and negative incarnation of white nationalism foremost in audiences’ minds. While Money’s respectful relations with black investigator Kutcher (Omari Hardwick) demonstrate the possibility of interracial cooperation, the racial orientation of prison gangs is revealed to be based on self-interest rather than on genuine love of one’s own people, with whites and blacks alike victimize their own in the course of the film. There is a probably unintentional humor and irony in the fact that the white gang member, Shotgun, who turns out to be a police informant is played by Jewish actor Jon Bernthal.

1.Race-realist. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Shot Caller is perfectly honest about the racially self-segregating nature of prison populations as microcosms of human behavior in all multiethnic societies. “It doesn’t matter what yard you go on; it will be segregated by race, period,” the movie’s director concedes in his audio commentary. “That’s a fact.” Shot Caller’s world is one in which a man decides to join the ranks of either the warriors or the victims – and only the latter stand alone.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

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