Nightcrawler (2014)

WARNING: Lacks any characters from the X-Men franchise

Director: Dan Gilroy
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton

Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a driven young man who's in the process of looking for work. He comes across the world of Nightcrawling, where freelance camera crews record mayhem such as crashes, fires and murders, and then sell them onto news stations. It's a cut-throat world where one persons misery and tragedy can be recorded and turned into dollars and cents, and it's through this world where Dan Gilroy takes aim at today's media. He builds a smart commentary around such a matter, showcasing how fascinated it is with more invasive and gruesome looks at crime, eventually best summing things up with the line "If it bleeds, it leads".

Atmosphere oozes all throughout, especially across the eye-catching glow that illuminates the streets, making for a creepy experience that works well with the built intensity and makes this a good picture to get a Halloween release. Gilroy brings all this together and sprinkles a dose of dark humor throughout, crafting a mixture that feels organic, and leaving a great first impression as director. Additional points for ingeniously showcasing a car chasing after a car chase.

There's evidently good performances on display from the supporting cast. Bill Paxton puts the right amount of sleaze into his role without coming off as cartoonish, while Riz Ahmed impresses as Lou's assistant. But this film is essentially a platform for Jake Gyllenhaal to showcase his talents, and by god, does he show them off. Sly and calculating are the best words to describe Lou Bloom, a character who regularly goes off the rails, talking as if he's attending a job interview. His lack of empathy is made up for with a high motivation to do the best job he can, to circumvent the law in order to achieve a twisted ideal of the American dream. It's a chilling role that's made all the more real by an intense and unnerving performance from Gyllenhaal, one that's more than deserving of awards recognition.

Through Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy delivers a dark, uncompromising look into a seedy world where a person bleeding to death can be worth thousands of dollars. At the center of this lies one of recent cinemas most compelling antiheroes, anchored by a masterful performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.