Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Running Time: 117 mins
Jake Gyllenhaal does a bang up job playing a smart upwardly mobile sleazy fast talking thief who escalates to sleazy fast driving ambulance chaser in Nightcrawler which shines a light on the dark underbelly of tabloid style morning TV news shows and their favorite “sport” of beating the competition.
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) has been earning a living by stealing anything he can get his hands on: copper wire, fencing, manhole covers and selling to disreputable business folk. He’s desperate to be gainfully employed but when he tries to sell himself to the man buying his stolen goods, he’s quickly brushed off and off he goes looking for something else to steal.
Instead, he comes upon a gory road accident and gets a brief introduction into the dubious art of of TV news gathering by videographer Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) whose tagline is “If it bleeds it leads.” Joe is a freelancer tapped into police and EMS radio feeds who sells all sorts of blood and gore footage he shoots overnight to the eagerly awaiting early news shows. There’s good money to be had and his best customer is an eager beaver of a news director named Nina Romina (Russo) of KWLA 6, a Los Angeles news station.
Lou’s efforts to get Joe to hire him go nowhere so the ever resourceful thief steals an expensive racing bike and pawns it for a video camera and police scanner. He’s now a one-man production company chasing the same leads as Joe. It’s hit and miss for awhile but then Lou gets really good at what he’s trying to do, beat his competition. From there he becomes Nina’s new best supplier. He even hires his own assistant (Riz Ahmed as the slightly dim witted Rick) to help him quickly navigate around Los Angeles.
What becomes abundantly clear is that Lou’s a sociopath. He doesn’t let anything or anybody get in the way of getting the close up gory shots he needs to become successful in the trade. He’s a quick study and with the internet as his classroom, there’s no stopping Lou.
Meanwhile, Nina is a female Lou. She lacks any sense of morality in that she’ll go to the same extremes to get what she needs to keep her job in the competitive environment of morning news especially with ratings sweeps week coming. She pushes Lou to get the most graphic footage and he pushes back to get top dollar for his offerings.
Lotta says: Nightcrawler is a well written and fast paced suspense with terrific speed driving action sequences. It’s evident from the first lines of dialogue that Lou is determined to succeed at all costs. Watching Lou Bloom actually bloom is an eye opener. The aggressive and competitive news industry shown here is repugnant on every level. Lou’s speeches are slick and at times quite funny. He’s one scary dude who doesn’t hide his intentions behind a smile. He just states the facts as succinctly as he can and moves on.