The Film (5/5)
I won't say Nightcrawler came out of nowhere, and into my personal awareness. I heard Jake Gyllenhaal do an interview on NPR about his performance in the film months before seeing it. I heard excellent things about it, most of which compared the film to Martin Scorsese's 1974 masterpiece, Taxi Driver. Yet, the film did not find itself high on my list of films I wanted to catch up on. I sort of regret the wait, because having seen it now, it has become my favorite film of 2014, and is certainly deserving of those Taxi Driver comparisons with Gyllenhaal offering such an intense performance of a loner dwelling on the outskirts of society norms that the comparison is possible one of the few that comes to mind.
The film stars Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a man attempting to scrape by in L.A., as the film begins he is stealing scrap metal from construction sites, and selling them to other companies. After one such instance, he attempts to get a job with the company he just sold to. They, of course, refuse. While driving soon after he sees a fiery car wreck, and a man filming it instead of helping the people involved. He becomes obsessed with the lifestyle of the "nightcrawlers" videographers who comb the city at night with a navigator at their side driving to sites of bloody wrecks and crimes, filming them, and selling them to the local news stations who are obsessed with getting the most shocking footage in the nightly news. Lou strikes up a relationship with a news woman desperate to hold on to her job, Nina (Rene Russo), the pair seemingly bring out the worst in each other in a race to the bottom of violent network news coverage.
The film is the debut feature film by director Dan Gilroy, and looks and feels like a film by a director with much more experience. The film is a well paced, almost never boring film that successfully blends a dark character drama with action. The action in this film is so striking and intense, and needs to be regarded as it actually feels like it is a necessary element to support the story.
We are also treated to excellent performances all around most notably by Jake Gyllenhall, Rene Russo, and the understated Riz Ahmed, who plays Lou's naive navigator Rick. Between the nocturnal setting for most of the film, and Gyllenhaal's performance the film cast a largely otherworldy atmosphere, that is unlike other recent mainstream thrillers, and truly makes Nightcrawler a unique experience.
Nightcrawler is a gorgeous film, with a similarly gorgeous transfer. The film is presented by Universal with a 1080p AVC encoded transfer that preserves the original aspect ratio of the theatrical presentation. Being that the film the iflm is a recent affair, it's reproduction to the Blu-ray format is quite stellar. There is excellent fine detail, deep black levels, and excellent color reproduction that shows off the red of Lou's car, and the neons of L.A. at night.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track offers great depth, with dialogue being completely audible, also the score, and effects being mixed well. I did not detect any issues with the audio presentation.
We get 2 extras on the disc a commentary track with director Dan Gilroy, producer Tony Gilroy, and editor John Gilroy. We also get a 5 minute (way too short) behind the scenes look at the film.
Nightcrawler is one of the most intense and engaging films of 2014. It offers an excellent satire of the modern news media. The Audio/Video presentation is absolutely stunning, and the only weak point I can find is the lack of extras present on the set. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.