Nightcrawler (2014) Movie Review “This Generation’s Taxi Driver”

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No it’s the awesome “X-Men” character we all fell in love with from the opening scene of “X2”, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom.  This is a movie I’ve been trying to get a chance to see for a while now and I finally have!  Writer Dan Gilroy makes his exceptional directorial debut with possibly one of the best told stories of a sociopath on the big screen since Travis Bickle in the Martian Scorsese Masterpiece “Taxi Driver”.

Louis Bloom, a man living on the edge, is always desperate for money living day to day.  Bloom stumbles across a profession he’s never seen before, L.A Crime Journalism.   People whom record and video crime scenes and accidents and then sells them to news stations.  Bloom discovers a hidden talent, and gets involved in the profession.  Driven by darkly passion, Bloom is willing to do anything to get an edge on his competitors.  So much so, he begins cross the lines between Observer and Participant.

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The two key players here is director Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal.  It’s hard to believe this is writer/director Dan Gilroy’s first ever feature film (directing wise), he projects a hand at directing beyond his years.  “Nightcrawler” is part urban crime thriller, part physiological thriller, part social realism, and part neo noir thriller to create something truly unique.  Gilroy is able to provide a steady hand as he trends through all the complexity and different aspects of the film.  This may later become evident of a style of Gilroy but at this point it’s too soon to tell.

One of the fascinating aspects of Gilroy’s picture is the social comments he is making.  Gilroy attempts to paint a picture of modern television journalism; showing the manipulation the news will make to get viewers to watch, and how the character Louis Bloom knows how to exploit that.  This film feels very much within the real world we all live in today.  In doing this he makes an attempt at Social Realism, an attempt to make a statement on a social issue.  Although that voice is subtle it’s no less there.  Unlike “Men, Women and Children” which attempted to make a statement on modern social behaviors and came off condescending and heavy handed, which Gilroy is able to avoid.

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The second key player here is Jake Gyllenhaal.  Gyllenhaal continues to get better and better every single movie he is in.  From “Zodiac” to “End of Watch” to “Prisoners”, Gyllenhaal continues to show a wider and wider range of acting; now we’ve come to expect close to an Oscar worthy performances every single time he is out there.  As incredible as he is in all those other films, this is a hallmark of his career.  Gyllenhaal helps craft one of the most memorable characters of the year.

Louis Bloom is quiet, calculated, a talented eye, and a man with a serious lack of empathy.  Gyllenhaal is able to change the cadence in his own voice to allow himself to talked different than he ever has before, (and I swear to god he doesn’t blink.)  The eyes pierce with the eyes of a killer, it reminded me of Hannibal Lector at points.  Bloom knows how to exploit a situation and will stopped at nothing till he gets what he wants.  The man is meretricious, getting better and better at his craft but doesn’t care what laws he will cross in order to have the best product.  In this modern era of video (where everyone has some sort of video recording device) this is an intrinsic look at the power of that tool (something most people take for granted every day).

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The supporting cast is not short of stellar.  Rene Russo plays the director of an evening news show and kills it in the role.  It’s been a few years since I’ve seen her in a role that’s really stood out.  Her character is tough, experienced, and no nonsense, Russo portrays those qualities to a tee.

Bill Paxton plays one of Louis Bloom’s competitors, a tough hard nose videographer.  Very quickly he sees potential in Bloom and realizes his competition.  Once again Paxton is another actor that in the past few years sort of faded from my mind and seeing him here, Paxton once again showcases the talents his has gained as a veteran actor over the years.  Even a largely more unknown actor (Riz Ahmed)is given his chance to shine as Louis’s partner.

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The fact that this isn’t nominated for more academy awards is a travesty.  This is such an amazing piece of art.  The ending doesn’t quite wrap up the film the way I was hoping for, which keeps the film a little from reaching that upper echelon for me but it comes pretty close.  This is “Taxi Driver” for a new era.  Hopefully it will gain more attention as time passes on (it honestly gets better more I think about it)

Final Score

9/10

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