On the Line Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Mel Gibson is one of those stars who in 2022 definitely doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. He has long shown himself as a rather versatile actor, and as a skillful director, and as a person of the widest talents in general. But Gibson does not even think of stopping, sometimes helping young talents to declare themselves with his presence in the film. “Live” is just such a case. We tell in the review below how this film turned out.

“On the Line” / On the Line

Thriller genre

Directed by Romuald Boulanger

Starring Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Enrique Arce, William Mosley, Nadia Phares

Cinema premiere

Release year 2022

IMDb site

The protagonist of the film is the pathetic and extravagant presenter Elvis Cooney (Mel Gibson). He became famous for his late-night radio show, which has been on the air for about 40 years. Cooney is not particularly formal with colleagues or listeners, so his style of communication repels many. And he does not help the ratings of the show too much.

But the next edition may be the final one for Cooney, because one of the listeners who called in made his way to the host’s house and now threatens to kill his wife and daughter. Now Elvis must fulfill all the extravagant demands of the intruder and try to understand where he has so much hatred. And all this is broadcast live to thousands of listeners.


Romuald Boulanger started his career as a director relatively recently. At the same time, he nurtured the idea of ​​”Live” for several years. Before that, he tested the concept of “radio host vs. listener with evil intentions” in the 2019 short “The Conversation”, the plot of which repeats almost verbatim the opening of the Elvis Cooney story. And then Boulanger further experimented with the concept of presenting a story through means of communication in 2020’s On the Line, which told the story of a video call between friends and a killer. That is, “Live” is the culmination of the development of the ideas of a relatively new director.

Only the very idea that the whole story unfolds “in the ears” of listeners across America seems not to be fully developed. Only a few times throughout the film are we shown commentary from people listening to the events unfolding inside the studio. Only such moments do not directly affect the scenario. Sometimes it seems that instead of a radio broadcast, the viewer is watching the negotiations through the usual internal communication. And this somewhat destroys the central concept, which was even included in the name.

However, the use of radio broadcasts allowed another side of the film to emerge. Most often in thrillers we are shown tense events on which the story is built. “Live” is based only on the reactions of the heroes to the potential horrors planned by the local antagonist. For all the characters, he is just a voice on the other end of the line. And the audience is also not shown any moments that explain the motives of the thief. Therefore, while watching, you will be put in the same conditions as the characters of the story, and this increases the involvement in what is happening on the screen.


This tool is often used in high-quality horror films, when terrible moments are not openly demonstrated, but only hinted at. “Live” adapts this to the format of a realistic, down-to-earth thriller – and does it with great skill. Here, it is also worth praising the competent work with the sounds that are heard on the other end of the communication line.

On the other hand, it is desirable to watch this in the original English dubbing. After all, let there be no special complaints about the Ukrainian dubbing, it is not able to convey all the nuances of the voices of the characters and the sound in general. After all, it is precisely on the latter that a significant part of the tension during viewing is built.

This is especially true of Gibson’s character. After all, the main tool of a radio presenter is the voice. Therefore, watching the breaking of Elvis’ coolness through intonations and phrases is a separate attractive moment of the plot. However, here too the script misses the potential of the central character. After all, he quickly rejects cynicism, turning into an ordinary hero, as Mel Gibson became famous in the minds of the masses.

The main intrigue is skillfully supported by “Live”. The film maintains a fairly high dynamic of the development of events, even for its relative compactness. Sometimes he enters the territory of works about “survival games”, sometimes throws up additional riddles and clues that allow you not to get bored. That is, there are generally no problems with the local detective and thriller component.

However, already closer to the first third of the film, you start to catch yourself thinking that the story is developing too complicatedly. The main antagonist seems to be completely omnipotent, and his level of training raises questions. There will only be more of them as history progresses. Even the use of a special “terrorist application” to organize additional tests for the main characters looks as artificial as possible.


But all questions disappear in the finale, which dramatically changes the view of the plot as a whole. And now you can think that the whole viewing turned out to be rather pointless – however, here the authors have added another plot twist that makes “Live” at least worth watching. Only here the disputes surrounding the final will probably arise.

Pros: an interesting concept, a worthy thriller component Cons: controversial ending, not fully developed potential of the central idea and the main character Conclusion:

This time, the Oscar-winning Mel Gibson did not become a guarantor of the quality of the film, which must be seen by everyone. “Live” has enough flaws, but in general it looks (and sounds) interesting – and can even surprise in places. But next time director Romuald Boulanger better move away from the concept of stories built around the means of communication. Because already here he exhausted himself

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