Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and Bill Paxton
This film begins following a man played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He is cutting fence and is stopped by a security guard. The guard asks Gyllenhaal what he is doing and he gives a poor excuse. Gyllenhaal looks at the watch the man has and then attacks him. We then see Gyllenhaal wearing the watch.
We then see him at a scrap yard as he is trying to sell all the metal that he has stolen. He is trying to sell them to Marco Rodríguez. He knows that everything is stolen so he drives a hard bargain. Gyllenhaal tries to negotiate, but it doesn’t work out. He then asks for a job, but Rodríguez puts him in his place, stating he would not hire a thief.
Gyllenhaal is driving in his crappy car when he comes upon a car wreck. He gets out of his car to watch closer when he meets a news crew led by Bill Paxton. We learn that they are ‘nightcrawlers’. They chase news stories over police scanner and then film the grisly details and then sell it to the highest bidder. Gyllenhaal is immediately interested, but when he asks Paxton to let him intern, he is shot down.
The next day Gyllenhaal is on the beach and a man secures his bike to a rack. We then see Gyllenhaal in a pawnshop with it, riding it around. He does business to get started with a cheap camera and police scanner.
He tries to go to a few different police scenes, but to no avail at first. He then comes upon a car jacking, where the driver has been shot and is being attended to by medical personnel. Gyllenhaal has an eye for getting to the bloody scene and ends up pissing off the police. He is kicked out of the scene along with another cameraman. He is upset with Gyllenhaal for this. Gyllenhaal eavesdrops on what happened at this crime by listening to the other cameraman’s phone conversation and then decides to try to sell the footage.
This brings him to a news station. He ends up meeting with Rene Russo. She at first doesn’t listen to him, but once she sees what he has, she is interested. She calls in Kevin Rahm, who doesn’t think they should show the footage. Russo shoots him down and buys the footage from Gyllenhaal for 250 dollars. She tells him that he has an eye for what sells and wants to have the first rights to everything he films. He comes home and uploads the footage into his computer.
He knows that if he is going to grow, he needs to have an assistant. He interviews and hires Riz Ahmed into an internship, paying him 30 dollars a day. Ahmed is currently homeless and will do whatever he can for money.
Their partnership doesn’t start out well. Due to Ahmed not being able to navigate and keep his cool while Gyllenhaal is driving fast. They end up coming to a crime scene late. Paxton is there though to give him grief about it.
They end up hitting it big soon after. Gyllenhaal films story after story which become big news. He is bringing in the money, enough so that he can upgrade his car to a Challenger and get a high-tech police scanner as well as new cameras. Paxton realizes that he has underestimated him and fills him in on his plan of expansion. He wants Gyllenhaal to man his other van, but Gyllenhaal turns him down.
They begin to battle to get the best stories. Gyllenhaal begins to gain the upper hand over Russo and she knows it. She tries to deny him what he wants, but he ends up convincing her to sleep with him. He promises her that she will see a big ratings increase during their sweeps week. The problem is the first story that happens that week is filmed by Paxton.
After a car accident that kills Paxton, there is a shooting that Gyllenhaal gets to before the police arrive. He goes into the house to find four dead bodies. He films them all. Will this be the story he has been waiting for? Will the police allow him to keep this footage? He sees the gunmen and what their driving, but claims to the police that he didn’t. Will they learn the truth or will he use this to make more stories?
I have to say that this film is really good and a lot of it comes down to Gyllenhaal in the role he plays. He definitely has some sort of personality disorder. I’m not sure if he is just a sociopath, some kind of anti-social behavior or if he has a form of autism. Whatever it is, he plays it great. He has great, long-winded monologues that give his beliefs on things. He is a master manipulator as well. I think the story progresses nicely to the sick finale. Russo is also good. We see that she is almost as sick as he is and that she becomes worse in her search for ratings. Definitely a well thought out and paced film.
The only issues I had are that I’m not sure the police would allow cameraman to get as close as Gyllenhaal and the other nightcrawlers get to the scene of some of these crimes and accidents. I also thought during the ‘Horror House’ segment, the news broadcasters sounded horrible acted. I know they are trying to simulate what a live broadcast would be to breaking news, but it didn’t feel real to me.
This film is being added to the horror film research due to Gyllenhaal’s character and his actions. We have someone who has some kind of personality disorder and will sacrifice those around him to succeed. He also sets-up crimes to make a better story as well as break laws to get the shots he needs. He also manipulates those around him to get his own satisfaction. This is scary to think that someone could do all of this, but it is definitely real and could happen. It could also be seen as a form of madness as well.
All in all though, I would recommend this film. The acting is very good from Gyllenhaal. Russo is good as well as Ahmed, Paxton and Rahm. This film makes you think about us as viewers when it comes to the news. We think about how disgusting these stories are, but we eat them up and want to watch. I think we really need to look at ourselves when it comes to this. The story is good, the pacing is as well and the film really drives home its point. I would recommend giving this a viewing. It is 117 minutes, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it.
My Rating: 9 out of 10