On the Line Ending Explained – Romuald Boulanger is the writer of the screenplay, producer, and director of the 2022 thriller film On the Line, which stars Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson portrays Elvis Cooney, William Moseley plays Dylan, and Nadia Fares plays Sam DuBois in the film. For fans of the subgenre, “On the Line” is a must-see because it is a superb example of the psychological thriller subgenre.
As a result of a phone call from an unknown caller, Elvis Cooney’s life descends into insanity and chaos, and he is forced to play a deadly game to save his family. Only a few hours remain for Elvis to discover his mysterious caller and save his wife and daughter. The movie’s climax also reveals a mind-blowing twist.
What Is the Plot of the Film “On the Line?”
Los Angeles’s own “shock jock” Elvis Cooney, abandons his family at midnight to go to his job at KLAT. At the start of his shift, he is introduced to the new intern, Dylan, on whom he promptly pulls a prank. Mary, Elvis’s switchboard operator, is instrumental in the production of Elvis’s radio program. A man named Gary calls Elvis while he’s on the air, saying that he’s at his house with his wife and two daughters, Olivia and Adria, and that he’s holding them hostage.
Gary threatens to murder Elvis’ family if he is forced off the air and later explains that Elvis’ attitude and sexist jokes drove a previous switchboard operator, Lauren, to suicide. Gary coaxes Elvis into a radio confession: “I slept with Mary.” Then he tells him to climb to the top of the building and leap to his death. After that comes Dylan, Mary, and studio assistant Steven. Dylan tries to convince Gary that Elvis has jumped off the roof, but a drone is filming the whole thing outside. Two shots ring out, and Elvis immediately assumes the worst about his loved ones.
Gary’s voice can be heard over the studio’s speakers as he leaves, assuring listeners that his family is safe and sound inside the building. After Elvis sends Gary on a wild goose chase, Gary reveals that he has been hiding in the studio the whole time and that Elvis has been planning to blow up the building by setting off a bomb. Gary warns that if Elvis doesn’t locate him within 40 minutes, everyone will perish.
Continuing their search for Gary, Olivia, and Adria, Elvis, and Dylan (who has stayed with Elvis throughout) make their way through the building. Tony, an old friend of Elvis’ who has been stealing computers from the office, is someone they encounter along the way. Gary gives Elvis the order to kill him, but Elvis doesn’t comply, and they continue.
Gary discloses that he can see them through the CCTV after they have been led to a false hiding place. Elvis takes Dylan to the control room via an unmonitored corridor, where they discover not Gary but Justin (the host with the time slot that Elvis wants) dead from a gunshot wound. After that, Gary explains that he is currently in a recording studio with a handcuffed Mary and Steven. After sneaking back into the studio to get an extra ten minutes on the clock, Elvis and Dylan take a different route. As they ascend the stairs, they discover Tony dangling from the ceiling by his neck.
When Elvis catches Gary with a box cutter, Gary reveals that he is in possession of a dead man’s switch and that Olivia and Adria are wearing bomb vests on the terrace. Then, Gary gets a call from LAPD SWAT team member Bruce, who says he’s on the terrace but can’t defuse the bombs. Gary then demands a swap, in which he lets Dylan replace Olivia and Adria. Bruce, under duress, has Gary help him deactivate the vests, and then he and Dylan bring the vests down to the studio, where they are activated on Dylan. Everyone watches in shock as Gary shoots Bruce in the head and then drops the dead man’s switch. As everyone who had been presumed dead suddenly reappears, healthy and happy, Elvis and Gary burst into laughter and a warm embrace.
Dylan is stunned and horrified to learn that the entire ordeal was an elaborate studio prank. After Elvis finishes his explanation, he tries to gauge Dylan’s reaction, but Dylan walks off without saying a word. Dylan is being chased out the door by Elvis and his crew when he trips and falls down the stairs, cracking his head open and appearing to be dead.
Elvis leaves the studio the next day in a state of deep depression, declaring that he will no longer be working on the radio. To celebrate Elvis’ birthday, which he claimed nobody remembered at the beginning of the film, Dylan (real name: Max) faked his own death as part of a prank by the entire radio station. Elvis is relieved to see Dylan/Max alive, and he jokes to his coworkers that his revenge prank will be even more extreme by the film’s final scene.
On the Line Ending, Explained: Is Dylan Dead?
Elvis and Dylan track down Garry to the radio room, where he is holding Marry and Steven hostage. As Elvis holds a knife to Garry’s throat, Bruce of LAPD SWAT calls to tell him that his family is trapped inside bombs that only he can defuse. Considering he’s a hair’s breadth away from choking on his own blood, Garry is remarkably composed.
Why? This is because Garry has thought of everything, from how to enter the building to how to leave it. His finger is on the detonator, and a single false move could mean the end for Elvis’s loved ones and everyone else inside. Elvis is in a desperate race against the clock to rescue his wife and daughter, but Garry treats the situation as if it were a game. To defuse tension, he jokes around and has friendly exchanges with callers. He thinks Elvis has had his fun, so now is his time to even the score.
After receiving the code from Garry, Bruce can defuse the bomb and lead Elvis’ family to safety. However, there is a catch: Dylan is the one who has to put his life in danger by wearing the bomb vest instead of the other person. Marry tries to relate to Garry by saying that she, too, has experienced the daily humiliation that Lauren did; however, her efforts are fruitless. To get Garry to surrender, Bruce takes a bullet to the head. Dylan’s face is shown for an extended period as his troubled breathing can be heard as Garry loses his cool and takes his finger off the detonator. The whole thing, however, was just a joke.
What!!? The truth is that Elvis had been plotting this sick joke for weeks. James Steel, the social media star who initially canceled, Marry Steven, and even the security guard, were all in on it. They’re having a great time, but Dylan doesn’t find it funny. Dylan saw it not as a harmless prank but as a sick joke on a grand scale. He was terrified and unprepared for confrontations of this nature, and he had repeatedly begged Elvis to call the police.
He couldn’t take in all the violence and destruction any longer. Dylan’s silence is telling; it suggests he has made up his mind to quit his job for good. Dylan loses his footing and falls down the stairs, striking his head on the pipe below as the group laughs and laughs at how funny and harmless their prank is. Marry goes to see how he is doing, but it’s too late.
One victim of Elvis’ cruel jokes has died. Elvis, unable to accept the news, leaves the building quietly, silently blaming himself for Dylan’s death. Dylan’s stony expression and the tears streaming down his cheeks as his boss confronted him were indicative of the same thing. However, the film’s biggest twist was still to come. The whole station was in on the joke, and they all worked together to make Elvis’ birthday special.
In a candid conversation with Elvis, Dylan reveals that his given name is Max and that he works as a stuntman. Everyone is laughing their heads off, and Elvis vows vengeance, implying that his new prank will soon be put into action. Elvis thinks his pranks are funny and harmless, but they always hurt somebody’s feelings. Elvis was defeated at his own game, but instead of trying to put an end to practical jokes, he seems more interested in getting even with his coworkers. Pranks are usually humorous and safe, but they can become dangerous if the joker crosses a line.