Movie Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

Posted: June 20, 2015 in Drama


Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is down and out in Los Angeles.  He needs money so badly, he steals scrap metal and tries to sell it for a profit.  One day, Louis stumbles upon a news crew filming a car accident and has an epiphany.  He sells his bicycle and buys a video camera and a police scanner.  Soon he’s following police to crime scenes, a habit that police don’t like.  Louis sells his first story to Nina Romina (Rene Russo) news director of the lowest rated news channel in LA.  Louis is hooked on the footage gathering business.  He hires a formerly homeless man named Rick (Riz Ahmed) to be his assistant, and buys a Dodge Challenger, and with Rick as his wingman, he films lots of crime scene action.  But there are competitors, and when Lou loses a story to a competitor, the competitor mysteriously ends up in a hospital.

One day Louis discovers a crime in progress, he arrives at the scene before the police do.  His first instinct is to grab his camera, and start filming, but does he do the ethical thing and call the cops as the crime is in progress?

I didn’t like Nightcrawler, not at all.  In its attempt to condemn exploitative behavior by local news and the people who watch it, it becomes exploitative itself, feeding in the same violence filled trough that it seeks to condemn.  In the end, it’s just typical Hollywood, shootings, bloodshed, car chases all in the name of illustrating some higher purpose.  It’s also so full of plot holes that it loses any logic it might have had and takes a right turn into fantasyland.  Louis and his manic behavior should have caught the attention of the authorities long before it did. There is some humor, with Louis throwing around corporate buzzwords to describe his “company” but the humor is hardly a saving grace for the film.

The acting is ok, Gyllenhaal plays Louis Bloom like a cross between Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Raymond in Rain Man, he spews a constant stream of word salad at people interspersing facts with corporate lingo, all the while demonstrating a google-eyed  stare, just to let the audience know that he’s insane in the membrane.  Rene Russo plays the amoral unethical news director with little emotion, but a horrible makeup job.  Is this what Hollywood thinks older women look like?  Probably, and that would explain the youth obsessed Hollywood culture. Riz Ahmed plays Rick as someone even more desperate than Louis.

Director Dan Gilroy gives the viewer standard issue Hollywood sequences, montages of  Louis selling his video clips, car chases, shootings, blood and gore.  Even though he wrote and directed the movie, he gives no insight as to why Louis is the way he is.  What drove him to this point?  No flashbacks, not even a hint of the trigger of the illness in the script.

Nightcrawler:  Opens up a big can of worms.


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