Movie Review: “Nightcrawler” Is Bleak But a Whole Lot of Fun

By Michael James Gonzalez, Special for the Pasadena Independent

Courtesy flier from

Courtesy flier from

The world of local TV news is bleak. Tragic stories are churned out nightly of accidents, murders, deadly fires, and the list goes on and on. “Nightcrawler” is a thriller set in Los Angeles after dark that gives us a grim view of how nightly news stories are gathered and the backroom decision makers who broadcast them.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, an intensely ambitious young thief who stops for a random car accident out of curiosity and discovers the profession of nightcrawling, where freelance camera crews film horrific events and sell their recordings to the highest bidding TV news station.

Lou quickly buys a cheap camera and a police scanner and begins prowling the city at night, sloppily filming police incidents at first, but when he gets headline-news worthy footage of a murder, Lou makes his first sale to Nina (Rene Russo), a sexy but amoral and haggard morning TV news director.

As Lou quickly improves his talent as a cameraman, so does his financial status improve, which prompts him to buy a muscle car and take on an assistant (Riz Ahmed). Together, the two race through nocturnal Los Angeles and quickly become the nightcrawling industry leaders. But Lou’s greed and sociopathic tendencies cause him to start unraveling as he himself becomes the focus of the leading TV news story he filmed and the police investigation surrounding it.

Dan Gilroy-who has written strong screenplays like “Two for the Money” and “The Bourne Legacy”-has written another layered, nuanced, and original story with “Nightcrawler.” The film is a subversive social commentary on the American Dream, a character study of a frightening personality-perhaps not portrayed on screen since Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman in “American psycho”-and a pulse-pounding thriller.

This is Gilroy’s directing debut and as a filmmaker he shines as well. But it’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance that stands out from many of the film’s triumphs; he is shark-like; he’s cold, he’s calculating, he reads people and situations like a ruthless, corporate CEO who is always several moves ahead of everyone else. The subject matter in “Nightcrawler” may be bleak, but watching it unfold is never less than pure fun.

Source Beacon Media News