A GRITTY, STYLIZED, AND INTELLIGENTLY CRAFTED BEAST THAT RIDES IN THE NIGHT!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A (3 ½ stars)
OPEN ROAD FILMS
Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (The Fall, Chasers, Two for the Money), brother of The Bourne Legacy and Duplicity director, Tony Gilroy makes his directional debut with the new crime thriller, Nightcrawler, starring the Tobey Maguire look-alike himself, Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac, Prisoners, Donnie Darko). The film has a very unique style with camera work and set lighting, kind of a stylized art-house-ish gritty tone that’s very similar to films like End of Watch and Ryan Gosling’s Drive and it really adds a lot to the suspense and tone that the film goes for.
For a directional debut, Nightcrawler is a very clever thriller, the film doesn’t focus completely on the heavy violence and murder scenes but more on Gyllenhaal’s character and his partner, almost like a buddy cop movie, except it’s not.
Jake stars as a man in Los Angeles, California known as Lou Bloom, who is desperately searching for a job and always ends up around gruesome crime scenes. He eventually goes rogue and starts videotaping the incidents that occur and report them to the local TV news channel to see if he can make some money off it.
In comes news veteran, Nina (Rene Russo-Thor, In the Line of Fire, Get Shorty) who is losing ratings on her channel and desires gritty and important news stories, who befriends Lou and offers him a job to videotape and report crime scenes. Lou also recruits Rick (Riz Ahmed-Closed Circuit), a young man desperate to make money and agrees to assist Lou on his quest for stories and stay ahead of his competition, a snooty Nightcrawler named Joe Loder (Bill Paxton-Twister, Edge of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
Overall, Nightcrawler is a very clever thriller, definitely has that Drive and End of Watch feel to it that definitely makes it more watchable, the driving scenes felt they were ripped right out of Drive and the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and his assistant almost feels like the buddy cops in End of Watch. The two of them have very remarkable chemistry and you always want to know what’s going to happen to them when something is about to go down.
And of course the side characters like Rene Russo and Bill Paxton are a ton of fun to watch, especially the jerky and over the top Paxton. Although I would have to say Rene Russo’s character is developed better than Bill Paxton’s, she’s basically the love interest and tough boss, but she’s no “Bad Guy” or has a dark side, she’s just doing her job and it’s very believable when she talks to Jake Gyllenhaal about the footage he has.
I guess my only problem with the film is that it doesn’t dive entirely into what actually happens during the murder and crime scenes, it mostly takes place after the incidents occur, but I don’t know I love how the film takes its time with how everything unfolds and the suspense it builds along the way.
If you’re a Jake Gyllenhaal fan, you’re probably going to love his performance in this movie; it might be him at his best. Also if you want a clever but not too over the top thriller, chances are you should take that ride with the Nightcrawler, you won’t regret it.