Jake Gyllenhaal gives a measured, menacing performance as a petty thief and a guy with a thorough disregard for anyone but himself in “Nightcrawler.” He’s a skilled liar and con artist with a gift for verbalizing his scams in a most forceful and convincing fashion. He has a killing, violent side that springs forward in a manner even he can’t really control.
Gyllenhaal’s character is Lou Bloom. Lou somewhat accidentally stumbles upon the business of freelance news video photographer while prowling the night streets of Los Angeles. He steals an expensive bike, sells it at a pawn shop, buys a used video camera & a police scanner and he’s off to chase down bloody car wrecks and the like anywhere he can find them.
Using a lot of initiative and a little bit of luck, Lou manages to sell one of his first tapes to a television station that is struggling in the ratings and is need of the most sensationalistic material they can find. The station’s news director, played by Rene Russo, is impressed with Lou’s work and soon an unholy bargain is struck that Lou the loner would like to see develop into more than just a business relationship.
“Nightcrawler” is a mesmerizing capture of Gyllenhaal’s character.
Although some of the tactical elements shown in the film are not exactly true to real-world operational standards of police and fire departments, it’s close enough. Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of the best performances of the year. And the next time you turn on the news on television, you might be tempted to think a little deeper about what you’re watching than you did before.