Take a Drink: every time Louis shares a work philosophy.
Take a Drink: for every death.
Down a Shot: every time he waters his plant.
By: Mitch Hansch (Three Beers) –
“I like to say, “If you’re seeing me, then you’re having the worst day of your life.” ”
So says Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he races through the L.A. streets with the help of his trusty police scanner and a camcorder to be on the scene of someone else’s tragedy so he can shoot and sell the juicy fear-inducing exclusive footage to the local nightly news.
A literal scavenger and thief, Bloom comes across a gory highway crash where he meets a veteran nightcrawler (one who gets said news footage) wonderfully grizzly and played by the ever-awesome Bill Paxton. From there, Bloom finds his true passion and calling. Chasing down the grimiest of disasters, Bloom is a self-described quick learner. His aptitude combined with the fact that he never for a second hesitates on doing something that you and I might find morally unsavory and his imagination for the violent paparazzi craft makes him a worthy adversary to all the other “nightcrawlers”.
This skill is recognized and encouraged by Nina (a terrific Rene Russo), an unscrupulous news director of a last place news station. Bloom continues to bring golden material from the seemingly crime-drenched streets of Los Angeles that will get Nina the ratings she so covets. This in turn makes Bloom’s leverage to bargain all the more powerful and depraved.
Jake Gyllenhaal dropped 20 pounds to play Bloom, and even though losing weight doesn’t make you a great actor, there is a striking transformation that the Donnie Darko actor achieves with his greasy black hair, his razor sharp cheekbones, his wide bugged out eyes, and his crap-eating grin that showcases his flexible moral compass. There is a ticking time bomb terror that emanates from him. Gyllenhaal is the clear-cut treat in Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut Nightcrawler, and he creates a can’t look away ferocity even as Gilroy’s higher aspirations fail to be realized.
Gilroy, whose usual hat is screenwriting, is responsible for the Nightcrawler script as well and delights in giving Bloom tasty speeches. We learn very little about Bloom except that he was raised on the Google University, teaching himself a little about everything and channeling it all to better himself as both an employee and an employer. These speeches tantalize, but as the film moves forward, his character doesn’t. Bloom gets bolder with taking chances to get the best footage, which includes tampering with crime scenes, but Gilroy never reaches the intended shock and awe of the 1976 classic Network.
There’s a believability factor that stretches too thin. As much as putting Bloom in these heightened situations is interesting, everything tends to work out just a little too well for our dangerously focused sociopath and the prized shot he’s after. For example, late in the film, Bloom beats the police to a home invasion and lets himself in, and when questioned about the event, his calm demeanor is supposed to prevent L.A.’s finest from finding out about his obvious break-in. In addition, detectives try to shut down a segment from airing later, but the cold-blooded Nina says no dice – I guess that was good enough for them.
The film’s early trailers had me lusting in hopes that Louis Bloom might be the next Travis Bickle and Gyllenhaal does his damnedest to make my skin crawl, but Dan Gilroy is no Martin Scorsese.