Grade B+

“Shot Caller” is a tense, mostly terrifying story of a high ranking, prison gang member (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) out on parole.  On orders from his boss to spearhead a major score of illegal guns, Waldau has no choice but to see it through.  To refuse would mean his execution, as well as his family’s.  Omari Hardwick plays a cop who is also Waldau’s parole officer.   Somehow, Hardwick is tipped off to the illegal guns; and he puts Waldau on surveillance, gleaning as much information as he can in order to prevent hundreds of fully automatic rifles going out into the streets. Two men on opposite sides of the law, and only one winner will emerge.

“Shot Caller” is told from two timelines: the present, and the past which reveals how Waldau became the ruthless gangster that he is.  It is the past timeline that is the most gripping, showing us a drastically different man who made a mistake that led to a devastating, downward spiral of his life.  But years in prison has not fully transformed Waldau…carefully hidden deep within the monster, there is a bit of humanity left.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Shot Caller” is the scene when Waldau butchers a fellow gangster in the man’s home.  No fancy choreography, just someone getting stabbed multiple times until his life ends.

“Shot Caller” would have received a higher grade but for the shenanigans near the end of the movie.  **SPOILER ALERT**Waldau hides a weapon in his anus, and from the time he is captured to the time he is sent back to his old prison, the weapon is still there?  No law enforcement personnel ever looked up his butt to see if there were anything hidden there?  Also, when Waldau attacked his boss because Waldau’s family were threatened with execution, how does Waldau know that the hit wasn’t already in place?  These are big shenanigans, but the rest of the movie is so good that they didn’t damage the movie much.  For those who enjoy a good drama/suspense/prison movie, this one is definitely for you.

— M