Shot Caller starring Nikolaj Coster-Walau
Film review by James LaFond
The middle-class counterpart to Vince Vaughn’s Brawl in Cell Block 99, is a nearly identical story save for the social class of the protagonist. Rather than a doomed working class man, slated for extinction based on uncompromising ethics, the upscale hero played by Nikolaj Coster-Walau is doomed to fall into the abyss based on the racial politics of prison, which leave a white man doing time the choice of joining a white prison gang or getting raped.
The hero must forever sever himself from his estranged family. The system offers no prospect of redemption in this high end whitesploitation movie, in which a fallen white man has no path back to civic decency. Like Brawl in Cell Block 99, Shot Caller addresses the singular issue, the one straw that has broken the postmodern Aryan camel’s back in the manger, the fact that incarceration for a felony effectively ends any paleface’s chance at a decent life and places him among the felonious races as the priority target for law enforcement, played by a three-race team of law officers with the immense federal hard-on for white identified criminals, who nevertheless respect this man.
The heroic theme is lukewarm in that this hero out-thinks more than he outfights his lessers and his betters. However, the pillar of the shot caller’s moral compass is the same as that of the other white genocide movie under discussion—family. Both heroes, the working class and the upper class, throw their lives away to reserve the remnants of their tiny nuclear families, all of meaning left to them in a mean, meaningless world. The whiggerization and traitorous nature of many white-identified criminals is addressed as a pitfall almost equal to the vastly evil system, which is rendered minimally evil but realistically faceless and soulless.
This movie has too many twists and turns and James Bond like solutions to be truly heroic, but is pleasing, masculine-affirming and might be stomached by the frails in your life.