Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler movie review
Photo Credit: Nightcrawler / Open Road Films
Blood sells in the world of the evening news, and at the foothills of Los Angeles, the sharks come out at night. Known as stringers or nightcrawlers, are videogoers; men and women who chase tragedy and package their footage of roadside crashes and neighborhood crimes to television stations.

One shark hungry for the entrepreneurial life is Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), a desperate but ambitious young man who finds his calling in the supply and demand of voyeurism and violence. From thief to cameraman, Bloom studiously climbs his way up the ladder of a local station selling footage he captures of car accidents and jackings and robberies. Eventually a triple-homicide is a make-or-break venture that threatens to his video gathering production out of the water.

But Bloom isn't like other cutthroat videogoers converting tragedy into dollar-sign motivated adrenaline rushes. He's a shell of a person cashing in on bloodshed like a normal person orders a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Nothing startles him. His hand is always steady on the cam ready to cash in on the next tragedy and his mind is already onto the next crime scene. Nobody gets in the way of his brass ring.

With the rise of technology and how it permeates our lives to create fame monsters, out of nothing (the Kardashians) to stealing (The Bling Ring crew), is vastly becoming a favorite subject in film. Even with the gadgets used in the movie are a bit dated, it serves to entrap us into ravenous quest of what's sellable in evening news. Like it's predecessors that question how we approach the separation of what is being created in social media, on the news, and entertainment industry, Nightcrawler takes us on a real high-stakes job of feeding what society craves for - if it bleeds, it leads.

Produced by longtime writer, and now first-feature film director, Dan Gilroy doesn't as much impose a heavy-handed question of what type of world creates a person like Lou. Instead it presents a person like Lou who is moralistically removed from his job to chase what the news or entertainment world is asking of, what he's more than willing to fulfill, and the bargaining chips he systematically puts into place to keep the upper-hand on the streets and in business. The movie asks where the line is drawn in pursuit of ratings and media clips or stories we can't turn away from.

As a ghoulish and gaunt protagonist, Bloom is one of the scariest sweet-talkers of cinema; a parrot reciting entrepreneurial mantras with chilling and enigmatic persuasion. By day, he waters his plants and merely waits for the sun to set. Then he comes alive speeding through the sprawling city streets and freeways to be the first at a crime scene. Void of empathy, he who reels and deals in mayhem and is always hungry for taking more.

A performance like this may usually be considered as a cliche sociopath stereotype we can spot from a mile away, but Gyllenhaal doesn't give a typical performance. Instead it's the refreshing praise-worthy work of an actor who gives enough to display his range without going overboard and seeing the methodology of his performance. Over the past few years, the ever-changing actor has been consistently changing his role choices, and this time around he seems to slip into Bloom so easily, it's hard to recognize the actor of long ago.

Nightcrawler is the type of movie where it's easy to get carried away on the idea of its plot or a singular performance, and wonder if it's really the film you're excited about. Gilroy's flick is dramatic, action-packed, and refreshing. Nearly flawless in its performance by Gyllenhaal and his co-stars, the films' social commentary on the complicit nature of sensationalizing humanity's barbaric side subtly hooks you. From car chases to winded monologues, and Bloom's double-sided nature, we are taken on a gripping thrill ride and are also reminded of that gruesome cultural exploitation we all participate in.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Nightcrawler? What did you think?

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