Jake Gyllenhaal has been one of the most talented actors in Hollywood for some time now. He started his career as a child actor, with his breakthrough performance coming in the wonderful ‘Donnie Darko’. The best performance of his career undoubtedly came in Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’. A performance for which he received an Oscar nomination as well. Since then he’s starred in some very good movies such as David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’, David Ayer’s police drama ‘End of Watch’ as well as Duncan Jones’s Sci-Fi thriller ‘Source Code’. His last two films, ‘Prisoners’ and ‘Enemy’ have both been collaborations with Canadian director Denis Villeneuve have shown his acting range and versatility. However never before have we seen a side of Gyllenhaal quite like the one he shows us in ‘Nightcrawler’.
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler follows the story of Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal), an ambitious young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat and dangerous game of nightcrawling. The film also stars Riz Ahmad, Rene Russo and Bill Paxton. As a movie, Nightcrawler does well, it’s a pulsating and thrilling ride that keeps you at the edge of your seat, Dan Gilroy does well behind the camera on his directorial debut and provides us with some amazing action sequences. However, ultimately it’s Gyllenhaal’s movie who gives and absolutely amazing performance.
The movie offers a compelling character study and watching Gyllenhaal’s persona develop on-screen is truly fascinating. Gyllenhaal plays a true sociopath, one that perhaps rivals the likes of De Niro’s Travis Bickle as well as Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman. You know he’s a bad person, a cynic yet you find yourself rooting for him. Many have described this movie as a media satire, i can definitely see that, The depiction of media in this movie is certainly satirical, how a news channel will do anything to get good ratings which means abandoning all morals is evident.
This element of the movie is something that seems to be inspired by the 1976 classic ‘Network’. Watching Louis navigate through the streets of L.A is another great thing this movie offers which is a unique cinematic experience in itself that can be both extraordinary and shocking to watch. Riz Ahmed and Rene Russo offer good support in their supporting capacity and the sharp cinematography captures the dark mood of the movie perfectly.
All in all, Nightcrawler is a terrific movie and one of the year’s best. It succeeds mainly due to Jake Gyllenhaal’s intense, off the wall performance and Dan Gilroy’s steady direction as well as it’s unique story. I wold highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys social commentaries and character driven films.