Nightcrawler review: Jake Gyllenhaal takes us on a riveting ride

Posted on 13 November 2014
By George Heron
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I’ve never been a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, always preferring the talents of his more eclectic sister, Maggie. Despite enjoying Donnie Darko, his big break, I felt his performance was equal to that of a wooden chest of drawers.

But just like other actors such as Leonardo Di Caprio (I used to call him Di Craprio after Titanic) and Ben Affleck, who have got on my mammary glands over the years, he has started to redeem himself by involving himself in such worthy projects as Jarhead and End of Watch – Gripping thrillers that distract you from wanting you to punch that simultaneously smug and miserable face that he always wears.

Has the redemption come to full fruition with Nightcrawler?

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a man without direction. He scrapes by on his wits alone. He knows he has skills but only uses the basest of these, theft of anything that can be sold on. When he witnesses the aftermath of a traffic accident and how a TV crew speed upon the scene to take footage for broadcast, he ruthlessly undertakes the business venture of nightcrawling. All he needs is a police scanner, a video camera, his car and a hapless assistant and he’s ready to go.

The above information should have been all that was required to set the scene for a trailer for this film. Sadly, the trailer shoehorns in all of the key set-pieces, which makes you feel like you’ve watched the film before it finishes. I am happy to report that this should not detract from your enjoyment of this riveting movie.

If there was a graph to show how cumulatively entertaining this film is, you would see a line starting already high up and increasing diagonally upwards from left to right. As Bloom’s careers progresses, the film gets better and better.

Thankfully, one aspect of Bloom’s personality is played down in the trailer and becomes the overriding part of the film. Without using the term that clearly applies to him, his ability to manipulate others and focus on a goal relentlessly is like an allegory to how the big corporations work – instant profits no matter what.

The film also subliminally comments on the role of media in society and what should be reported in the public’s interest. The camera crews that invade the crime scenes of Hollywood have no intention to assist the emergency services but to fill their coffers with the next big story, the monetisation of human tragedy.

There are a couple of moments where you have to suspend a bit of disbelief and go with the flow. I was particularly jarred by two scenes where Bloom is soliloquising to TV executive Nina Romina (an excellent performance by Rene Russo). His speeches go on for so long that I begin to think “A real TV executive would definitely have walked off by now and not endured your bullshizzle any further.”

This is quite a jump for writer and director, Dan Gilroy, whose previous work was solely as a writer for robot kids flick Real Steel. For a film that is nearly two hours long it is perfectly paced with enthralling action sequences. You can see why Gyllenhaal was happy to attach himself as a producer and he puts everything into bringing a unique character like Bloom onto the silver screen.

You may still want to punch him in the face but it’s more to do with the character than anything personal. Jump on in and enjoy the ride!