Director: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed & Bill Paxton
Released by: Universal Studios
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Set in the sleepless city of Los Angeles, Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch) as Lou Bloom, a driven man determined to make a name for himself in the cutthroat business of breaking news coverage. Dangerously chasing the next murder or car crash, Bloom becomes consumed with his calling and distorts the line between documenting and participating in the unpredictable world of local news. Rene Russo (Thor), Riz Ahmed (Centurion) and Bill Paxton (Edge of Tomorrow) co-star.
Marking the directorial debut of Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (Two for the Money, The Bourne Legacy), Nightcrawler takes viewers on a thrilling journey where police sirens equal dollar bills for sleep-ridden film crews willing to risk it all for the cameras. Academy Award nominated Actor Jake Gyllenhaal delivers arguably, his fiercest role to date as Lou Bloom. Unemployed and independently educated, Bloom finds his calling after witnessing local mayhem captured for profit by freelance camera crews. Willing to lie, cheat and steal to muscle his way into the pack of seasoned nightcrawler’s, Bloom quickly shows promise selling footage to local TV news director Nina Romina (Russo). As jobs pile up and his craft perfected, Bloom hires fellow inexperienced assistant, Rick (Ahmed), to further his blooming career. Losing a staggering 20 pounds for the role, Gyllenhall embodies a starving wild animal, prepared to devour the latest gory story devoid of any professional principles. Well-spoken and precise in his desires, Gyllenhaal’s Bloom feels hauntingly akin to Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle as an introverted character disconnected from society yet, consumed by a city engulfed in crime and havoc. Rarely blinking, Gyllenhaal conveys an emotional gamut of assertive control and unpredictable rage like a time bomb waiting to explode. Obsessed with capturing the hottest footage ahead of his competitors, Bloom finds himself witnessing murders and filming the scene instead of reporting the video recorded culprits. Driven by capitalistic insanity, Bloom will stop at nothing to stage a series of events, pitting countless people in danger, including himself, to paint his personal picture of sensational news coverage.
Unpredictable and tense, Nightcrawler is a potent thrill ride for today’s unashamed TMZ-style coverage of current events. Aided by compelling supporting performances from Rene Russo and Bill Paxton as a veteran nocturnal stringer, Nightcrawler is a remarkable directorial debut from Dan Gilroy with apt style and a trance-like score from Composer James Newton Howard (Collateral, Maleficent). Tragically shunned by the Academy Awards, Gyllenhaal’s eerily conniving performance ranks as not only one of the year’s finest but, also Gyllenhall’s most absorbing.
Universal Studios presents Nightcrawler with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Predominately shot in the evening, Nightcrawler marvels with exceptional inky black levels and well defined detail. Colors are vivid and pop most appropriately in Lou’s bright red Dodge Challenger while, skin tones read gorgeously even under their dimly lit circumstances. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Nightcrawler soars with perfectly audible dialogue levels, to the more menacing sounds of roaring car engines and striking gunshots, all relayed with the utmost clarity. Special features include an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dan Gilroy, Producer Tony Gilroy and Editor John Gilroy as well as If It Bleeds, It Leads: Making Nightcrawler(5:15), a far too short overview of the production with brief interviews from the cast and Director Dan Gilroy. Finally, a DVD edition and UltraViolet Digital HD Code of the film round out the supplemental offerings.
Adrenaline-pounding and sinister, Nightcrawler sends the viewer on a journey through Los Angeles‘ dangerous labyrinth of stringer sensationalism. Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as the intelligent but, unhinged Lou Bloom is a crowd-pleasing performance resting proudly at the top of his already impressive credentials. Meanwhile, Universal Studios‘ Blu-ray release supplies perfect technical merits but, lacks a more comprehensive supplemental package. Familiar of past societal reject tales and simultaneously a statement on press coverage, Nightcrawler is unquestionably one of the best of its kind.
Available February 10th from Universal Studios, Nightcrawler can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.
For more Blu-ray/DVD reviews from Mike Kenny, head over to Mike’s Pop Culture Playhouse!