Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a small-time, two-bit thief eking out an existence in modern-day Los Angeles: he steals copper wire and chain link fencing and sells it to construction contractors, who will not hire him for construction jobs because he is dishonest.
One night, he comes upon a burning car from which paramedics are trying to free a trapped woman and discovers “nightcrawlers,” people who film violent/gory content and sell it to the local news networks. Lou figures this is something that he could be good at, so he steals a bike and trades it for a movie camera and police scanner at a pawn shop.
He prowls at night finding the scene of a carjacking gone wrong. Despite being to told to leave by police, he is able to get some graphic footage. He sells the footage to a local news station, which happens to be the lowest rated in the area. Rene Russo plays the news director, who encourages Lou to bring her more footage.
Lou hires an assistant, played by Riz Ahmed, to help him gather footage to sell. Soon after, Lou and his assistant respond to a crime-in-progress and get to the crime scene before the police. Lou re-stages the crime scene to get “better” footage. He hatches a plan to find the killers and get their arrest on camera to sell to the news stations, but with lethal consequences.
The movie is a timely exploration of the consequences of getting ever-increasing graphic/bloody footage to an increasing desensitized audience. When this footage is gathered by an ethically/morally challenged individual, these consequences are both horrifying and devastating.
Worth a look if want to see a fascinating (if disturbing) glimpse into an amoral creep who will do anything to get bloody/gory news footage to sell.
Skip it if you are tired of ever-increasing grapic news footage.
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