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Nightcrawler - The Review

03/12/2014 18:53 GMT | Updated 31/01/2015 10:59 GMT

When Jake Gyllenhaal made Donnie Darko in 2001, it marked the arrival of a major force in the movie business.

Of course we didn't know it at the time. That cult time travel offering could have been a fluke and Jake might never have made another movie.

But as the years went by, he went on to make a string of compelling offerings, from the stunning Zodiac (one of the most gripping thrillers of the past decade) to Prisoners.

The latter looked like it would be the most generic Hugh Jackman movie of recent years and yet turned out to be one of the most absorbing.

Which brings us to Nightcrawler, Jake's latest stunning performance.

He plays Lou Bloom, an intense petty thief. However, he has the drive of a young man who could make it big in whatever business he chooses. And after witnessing a crash one night, the proverbial light bulb goes on over his head.

He decides to start filming disasters and sell the footage to news companies with the simple philosophy of "If it bleeds it leads".

Rene Russo plays the seasoned news boss who knows she needs Bloom's spectacular footage. He does a good job of convincing her, but he's not the sort of bloke to obtain it without breaking a few rules.

Like moving a dead body to get a better shot or filming a couple of killers as they leave a property, then withholding the footage from the authorities in the hope of getting an even better story by trailing the perps and contacting the cops.

Nightcrawler is a brilliantly scripted, superbly acted drama, which could stray into the realms of satire or black comedy, but thankfully avoids the obvious pitfalls.

A development in the third act looked as obvious as night following day, but thankfully the movie strayed away from that inevitable cul-de-sac.

If Gyllenhaal isn't in the running for Oscars and Baftas I'd be amazed, though stranger things have happened.

As a recent convert to the world of video news reporting (having done a works training course and a trial by fire filming in the Azores), I was on the edge of my seat throughout. My wife however was less than thrilled by the movie.

Then again I can be in hysterics watching some films and she can look at me like I'm having a strange turn. Each to their own.

Nightcrawler is a contemporary classic which is bound to be compared to Drive - an urban, largely nocturnal tale of an anti hero clashing with murderous types - but I feel the host of movies it inspires will soon generate the tag line 'This year's Nightcrawler'.

Good support comes from the ever reliable Bill Paxton, and Blighty's own Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) is excellent as Jake's minion.

Take a bow writer/director Dan Gilroy. You've made a new cult classic.