A Mel Gibson Survival Thriller Is Heating Up On Netflix Top Charts

It may come as a surprise to some that Mel Gibson is indeed still working. Not only that, but one of his recent thrillers — 2022's "On the Line" — was ranked one of the three most-watched films on Netflix in the last week. It seems that despite his ... controversies ... Gibson is still able to draw an audience. 

For those too young to remember, Gibson was arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence. Upon his arrest, Gibson unleashed a drunken tirade that included several sexist and antisemitic remarks that were leaked to the public by TMZ. Gibson's antisemitic comments only calcified what many critics had theorized about the filmmaker when he made "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004, a film that was accused of leaning into antisemitic stereotypes. Gibson publicly apologized for the comments, went into recovery, and has been clean ever since. In 2010, however, Gibson was recorded making threatening, racist comments to his wife at the time. They have since divorced. Gibson, the general consensus seems to be, is a massive a-hole.

Hollywood forgave Gibson enough to direct "Hacksaw Ridge" in 2016, a film which garnered six Oscar nominations. Despite that film's success, Gibson is still in a semi-blackballed state, now appearing mostly in lower-profile action films and indie dramas; his last major studio film was "Daddy's Home 2" in 2017. He still works steadily, however, having appeared in 15 films since then. 

But now, "On the Line" from filmmaker Romuald Boulanger is burning up the charts over at Netflix. Gibson may be reviled by many, but it seems a great number of people either don't care, or still find him fascinating to watch. 

On the Line

In "On the Line," Gibson plays a late-night radio DJ in Los Angeles named Elvis Cooney (I know, I know), a figure known for his foul tirades and shocking on-air rants. He's like Don Imus or any number of other shock jocks that emerge in the pop consciousness every few years. While on the air, Elvis receives a call from "Gary" (Paul Spera), a man who claims to have taken his wife and daughter hostage. Gary, through threats, forces Elvis to confess his crimes on the air, including the affair Elvis had with a co-worker, and his part in another co-worker's self-inflicted death. Perhaps part of the appeal of "On the Line" is watching an actor known for his bad behavior expressing contrition. 

Elvis eventually finds that Gary is actually calling from inside the studio building, and a cat-and-mouse game commences with Elvis scoring the building looking for the hostage-taker. But then there is a further twist, followed by another, and another. The action in the film is recontextualized several times. Without giving too much away, I should remind readers that Elvis is a massive troll. As Pauline Adamek's review in FilmInk noted, the entire film is a protracted trolling exercise.

"On the Line" wasn't terribly well-reviewed, currently sporting a mere 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 25 reviews. The film was only given a tiny theatrical release, giving it a $112,081 take at the box office. It is, however, finding new life, at least for the week, on Netflix. The film's sudden popularity may be a case of audiences clicking out of curiosity, wondering what Gibson has been up to since his blackballing. 

As of this writing, Gibson is slated to direct "Flight Risk" starring Mark Wahlberg.