Why is this obscure 2022 Mel Gibson thriller so popular on Netflix right now?

Mel Gibson in On the Line.
Saban Films

The Netflix effect has struck again. Out of nowhere, the unheralded 2022 thriller On the Line has leaped to the No. 2 slot on the list of the most popular movies on Netflix. That’s above recent Netflix originals like Damsel, Irish Wish, and Shirley. On the Line has even helped bump The Super Mario Bros. Movie out of Netflix’s top five films, which hasn’t happened in a long time.

What’s bringing viewers in for On the Line? It’s a Mel Gibson movie that the vast majority of Netflix subscribers probably never heard about prior to this past weekend. Gibson is also by far the most recognizable name in the cast, with Kevin Dillon in a distant second thanks to his stint as Johnny “Drama” Chase on HBO’s Entourage. Romuald Boulanger wrote and directed On the Line, and the film’s newfound popularity on Netflix has saved it from obscurity.

Despite the fact that the movie has a very dismal 21% score on Rotten Tomatoes, there are three reasons why you should watch On the Line on Netflix. And the first reason shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has watched Lethal Weapon or Ransom.

Mel Gibson can still carry a movie

On the Line - Official Trailer Starring Mel Gibson

After well-publicized brushes with the law and recording devices, Mel Gibson has been his own worst enemy for years. There are a lot of reasons why Gibson doesn’t get the big Hollywood films that he used to handle with ease. However, Gibson’s performance is clearly the best thing about On the Line. And it’s a good thing too, because he has to do almost all of the heavy lifting while carrying this movie.

Gibson’s character is named Elvis, but he’s not the music legend. Instead, Elvis is a radio host who is part shock jock in the vein of Howard Stern and part therapist like Dr. Frasier Crane. It’s a different persona than the ones that made Gibson famous in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon films and others. But because of Gibson’s previous performances, there’s always the expectation that he might go full action hero when his family is threatened by a deranged caller who goes by the name of Gary (Paul Spera).

It lets you predict the twists

The cast of On the Line.
Saban Films

Let’s be blunt: On the Line is not a great thriller like The Silence of the Lambs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. And people are clearly having fun with it or else it wouldn’t be in Netflix’s top five movies. This film was clearly made on a budget, which is why most the story takes place at Elvis’ radio station when Gary calls in and makes various threats against Elvis, his family, and his friends.

If you’ve seen a lot of movies in your life, then it shouldn’t be too hard to guess what’s coming next when the stakes are established and Gary’s real location is revealed. The challenge we have for you here is to see if you can predict the twists before they’re revealed on screen.

It’s perfect for a bad movie viewing party

The cast of On the Line.
Saban Films

If there was ever a bad movie that demanded to be watched by friends during a drinking game, it’s On the Line. This movie seems destined for a future season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or possibly even a RiffTrax release. But why wait? There’s plenty of ridicule to go around, and you can supply your own comedic riffs with your pals on this one. In fact, that might go a long way toward redeeming this film’s flaws.

There’s nothing wrong with finding some joy in a movie even when it comes up far short of its own aspirations. Even bad movies can teach us a lot about the way cinema works — or doesn’t work. How much fun you have along the way is entirely up to you.

Watch On the Line on Netflix.