Young, jobless entrepreneur Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllnhaal) stumbles into the world of ‘Nightcrawlers’ -freelance cameramen who film crime scenes, car crashes and other accidents to sell the footage to TV news channels. Quickly sucked into the competitive career, he embarks on a mission to capture the most grisly shots and get ahead of the game no matter what the cost.
Set in L.A this cool looking thriller delivers a steady pace combined with a graphic and brutal insight to news journalism and the acquisition of the at times, sick footage that appears on TV news shows. Jake Gyllnhaal excels as the creepy, determined Lou who stops at nothing to find more and more visceral footage to sell. An offspring of a man educated by the internet, intent on achieving the American Dream he spouts business gabble and facts as if contrived.
Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho or Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, we follow an unhinged an almost psychopathic character whether we support or condone their actions, a bold move to see such repugnant traits in our supposed protagonist. Yet we follow, curiously routing for this ghastly man’s tactic to see what he will pull next. Rene Russo also stars as the world-weary TV executive who buys Lou’s tapes in a bid to stay ahead in the ratings, and Riz Ahmed (Ill Manners, Four Lions) as Lou’s intern/ side-kick Rick.
Despite its roots planted firmly in the thriller genre I was astounded at how many darkly funny moments feature, as Lou’s lack of empathy makes some conversations awkwardly entertaining. Dan Gilroy directs his cast and crew well, presenting some visually slick looking scenes and well paced, harrowingly tense moments presented with a sharp, lucid look.
Whilst the superb performance from Jake is consistent, the introduction of a police investigation far too late in the plot seems oddly leaves more to be desired. Whilst there are touches of social commentary on the morality of this business, I feel more of this Zeitgeist view could have been explored. Whether you for or against the crime-porn videos often featured on the news, Gyllenhaal’s performance and tense and well worthy of your time, go see it.