On the Line Movie's Wild Ending Explained - Mel Gibson Film Meaning

By Richard Nebens Posted:
On the Line, Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson's On the Line is making the rounds online as viewers ponder the meaning of the movie's ending.

Directed by Romuald Boulanger and released on November 4, 2022, On the Line tells the thrilling story of a radio host who gets an in-station call from a threatening individual. 

This leads to the reveal that the caller kidnapped his family and has plans to blow up the entire station, resulting in a tense 104 minutes that leaves viewers with questions from start to finish.

Analyzing On the Line's Ending Moments

On the Line ending
On the Line

2022's On the Line features Mel Gibson as Elvis Cooley, a Los Angeles-based shock jock radio host known for pulling pranks on both listeners and employees.

After meeting a new intern and starting his usual midnight show, Elvis gets a call from a listener named Gary, who eventually tells him he has Elvis' wife and daughter hostage and will kill them.

Gary tells Elvis he's doing this as revenge for the death of his girlfriend, Lauren, who previously worked for Elvis as a switchboard operator. He says Lauren committed suicide after suffering verbal abuse from Elvis during her time working for him.

Gary then attempts to force Elvis to jump off the roof of his radio station building to his death, although Elvis and his intern Dylan attempt to fool him. Quickly learning they faked the jump, Gary seemingly fires his gun over the phone, making Elvis believe his family is dead.

This leads to an insane chase for Gary all over the building as Elvis realizes the kidnapper is in the studio. Running through the facility with Dylan as he remains on the air, Elvis realizes the kidnapper is in the studio.

Finding a rival radio host shot in the head, one security guard lying dead in the lobby, and another guard hanging to death on the upper floors, Elvis continues playing Gary's game as he seeks the kidnapper out.

Eventually, he apprehends Gary and has a boxcutter at his throat while Mary (his co-producer) and Dylan stand with him. Gary also seems to have the building rigged with bombs and hints that he can blow up everybody inside at the touch of a button, along with Elvis' wife and daughter.

At the climax, Gary shoots an LAPD SWAT officer in the head and drops the dead man switch, but nothing happens - it is all revealed to be a huge hoax.

Elvis reveals that he set up the entire operation with every employee involved to prank the new guy, Dylan, who stands in pure shock as everybody else tries to get a rise out of him. Things take another turn when Dylan backs up into a stairwell and falls before hitting his head on a pipe, seemingly dying on impact.

Elvis vehemently claims to be done working on the radio the next morning when he learns that Dylan's death was yet another hoax, which comes when Dylan reveals himself to be a stunt worker named Max. The hoax is organized to celebrate Elvis' birthday, although he warns all of his co-workers that he will be planning something far worse than anything seen recently.

Who Is On the Line's Real Prankster?

On the Line ending
On the Line

While On the Line has fans believing there is a real and terrifying situation for most of the story, every moment from start to finish seems part of an almost sick and cruel prank.

It all starts with Mel Gibson's character's propensity for taking things slightly too far on and off the air, which leads to him being the target of a massive revenge scheme.

This comes after he helped orchestrate the film's core prank against his new employee, although it turns around on him when Dylan reveals the truth behind his own hijinks.

In the end, it is incredibly difficult to tell where the ideas for both pranks started or whether the radio station's team had ever done anything on that big of a scale before.

The film's ending also confirms that not only were there no real stakes to the story but that every character involved knew some prank was taking place.

While many fans surely felt some scares and thrills during the "kidnapping" and "hostage situation," there is no denying the end feels like a letdown, especially with more than one scheme to follow.

On the Line is now streaming on Netflix.

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- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.