Directed By: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, and Bill Paxton

I'm starting to think that Jake Gyllenhaal has been pigeonholing himself in the thriller genre over the last several years.  Since 2012, he's appeared in End of Watch, Prisoners, and now Nightcrawler, all dark movies in their own ways.  Though Prisoners was one of the outstanding films of 2013, it hasn't all been quality output from Gyllenhaal.  While many moviegoers would go to bat for his turn as a gutsy cop in End of Watch, I still just see the movie as an expletive-laced attempt at shock and awe.  With this weekend's Nightcrawler, I'm shockingly not salivating at the mouth to bash the continued failure of the American media at all levels.  Gyllenhall’s latest feature is a decent effort.  It just doesn't live up to the hype.

Though he's not an educated man with an impressive résumé, Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a man determined to make a career for himself.  He learns the hard way that stealing some construction materials and selling them to the individual from whom he is seeking gainful employment is not the wisest way to put a dent in the labor market.  Upon witnessing nightcrawler Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) get some exclusive footage of a disaster in real time and get a decent paycheck for his work, Louis finds his calling.  He goes and gets a camera of his own to hit the streets of Los Angeles looking for trouble.  Hiring Rick (Riz Ahmed) as an intern and establishing a fruitful relationship with local news producer Nina (Rene Russo), Louis launches his new company Video Production News (VPN).

Under normal circumstances, I would rave for a film that bashes the pathetic media that inundates us 24 hours a day with worthless infotainment while failing to deliver news that's actually informative.  In the case of Nightcrawler, however, I find myself in a very different place.  Don't get me wrong.  Director Dan Gilroy offers us a fun ride with a few decent thrills.  Tension and suspense abound as he showcases the slimy underbelly of the news media today.  Still, there's something about the film that just doesn't resonate with me.  Sure, there are plenty of intense, disastrous developments served up with a side of extra gore, but that's not enough.   Nightcrawler lacks a certain potency or depth that would take it to the next level.

Jake Gyllenhaal and his fellow cast members all deliver intriguing performances.  For his part as Louis Bloom, Gyllenhaal gives us an unmistakable oddball.  Delivering a slippery performance as this hardened nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal takes a dark turn on the big screen that's mostly enjoyable.  He’s definitely one cold fish.  For her part as Nina, Louis's sole link to the world of news, Rene Russo delivers a quietly desperate performance.  As this washed up news producer, she has this symbiotic relationship with Gyllenhaal's Bloom that is laced with sexual tension.  For their parts as Rick and Joe respectively, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton deliver solid performances that add the occasional comic relief to the film.

I certainly enjoyed Nightcrawler, but I can hardly say that I was wowed by it.  The movie just doesn't reach the heights that it could with more potent thrills and richer drama.  This could have been the sleeper hit of the awards season.  As it stands, it's a decent film on a quiet weekend.  Nightcrawler gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir with this one.