Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Dan Gilroy’s sinister, neo-noir crime thriller as sociopathic Louis Bloom, who prowls the streets of Los Angeles at night in his turbo-charged Dodge Challenger with a police scanner, doing accident and crime-reporting. He’s one of the many freelance video stringers, called “nightcrawlers.” Bloom routinely sells his footage to Nina (Rene Russo), a local graveyard-shift TV news director who’s desperately hungry for ratings; she tells him that viewers want to see “urban crime creeping into the suburbs.” Problem is: instead of remaining a passive bystander with a camera, Bloom brazenly begins to stage his own roadside carnage and re-arrange crime scenes – until he stumbles onto an apparent home invasion. Read on…
Scripted by Gilroy, who collaborated on “The Bourne Legacy” with his brother/director Tony Gilroy, it channels the kind of voyeurism that made “Rear Window” and “Blow-Up” popular. Making his directing debut, Dan Gilroy concocts a scathing media satire with its own inherent scary elements. At his side, cinematographer Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) adroitly captures the seedy, scary violence in the fabled City of Angels, culminating in its thrilling, tension-filled conclusion, punctuated by James Newton Howard’s pulsating musical score.
Exuding creepiness, wiry, wide-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal (“Prisoners,” “Enemy”) embodies delusionary Bloom, an outsider who is driven to achieve some kind of self-empowering identity. Adding to the veracity, there’s Riz Ahmed, as Bloom’s nervous apprentice, and Bill Paxton, as a veteran videographer who voices the newsroom adage, “If it bleeds, it leads…” And it’s great that Dan Gilroy wrote a meaty part for his wife, Rene Russo; they met and married after making “Freejack,” a 1992 sci-fi action movie.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Nightcrawler” is a dark, cynical 7, filled with savage, scathing commentary about our media’s relentless exploitation of violence.