The film opens with a scene of Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) cutting through a wire fence attempting to steal as he’s stopped by a security guard. Lou cleverly tries to talk his way out of the situation and notices the security guard’s watch. Next scene, Lou is driving, wearing the watch and we can only suspect what type of psychopath Lou is. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Lou is worth the ticket price alone. He plays him with a clever, highly intelligent, manipulative, sinister evilness that is enjoyable to watch.
After negotiating the sale of the wire fence parts and other stolen scrap metal he tells the buyer that he wants a job. Lou goes on and on about his qualities, what makes him a good person and why he would make an exceptional employee, but the buyer tersely tells him no because he is a thief. With a smirky smile Lou says that’s a wise decision. As he’s driving home Lou sees an accident and curiously gets out to see what’s going on. He runs into a cameraman (Bill Paxton) shooting the scene and then calls a news service to sell the footage. Lou learns that news footage can be sold to the highest bidder. Lou begins to embark on this endeavor with fervor so he steals to buy the camera gear he needs. We see that Lou is a loner, lives by himself in a small, dank apartment and is a voracious reader who learns quickly.
After monitoring a police scanner he arrives at his first crime scene, videotapes it and goes to a local station where news director Nina (Rene Russo) pays him for his footage. His footage is more artsy with more gore than the skilled, subtle, average news fare. Nina tells him he has a good eye, to keep practicing and to bring her more footage like that. Lou has ambitious and grandiose ideas parlaying this new venture to great heights, and him as well. From here the film entices us into the world of a “Nightcrawler” and as Lou goes to the extremes in reaching his lofty goals. The strange, warped relationship he develops with Nina is an enjoyable guilty pleasure that hinges on a peculiar and creepy storyline. Both Gyllenhaal and Russo give a believable performance.
Lou wants to expand his business and hires a sidekick, Rick (Riz Ahmed) a homeless, recovering addict and trains him with over-the-top diatribes and relentless monologues on being a profession, self-confidence and professionalism. This partnership reaches a unexpected climax that is both shocking and credible, despite Lou’s frailties.
For first time director Dan Gilroy, he masterfully crafts a person in Lou that’s reminiscence of some of the most likeable villains in film history. For Jake Gyllenhaal it is perhaps his best performance as Lou, gifting us with an enthralling, suspenseful and entertaining thriller that illustrates the dark side of authorized voyeurism with a creepy factor and ending that leaves you wondering how far can Lou go and get away with.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed
Director: Dan Gilroy
Company: Open Road Films
Now Showing: In Theaters
MPAA Rating: R (violence, strong language)