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Nightcrawler | 2014 | R | - 3.7.9

An LA freelancer (Jake Gyllenhaal) uses a video camera and a low-paid flunky (Riz Ahmed) to capture and sell footage of ghastly nighttime accidents and crimes. His public wants to see more and more blood and gore, so the freelancer and a TV news director (Rene Russo) are eager to comply. Also with Bill Paxton and Michael Hyatt. Directed by Dan Gilroy. [1:57]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - A male freelance journalist approaches an older female news director for a date and when she says that she is twice his age he says, "I like older women"; they eventually go to dinner and he presses her for a relationship, which she declines and he becomes quietly angry, threatening to take his reporting elsewhere and that he will sell his film footage to her TV news show only if she will have a physical relationship with him; she vaguely agrees but we never see physical contact. A younger man shouts at an older woman that he does not like having to ask twice for specific sexual favors when they are alone in her apartment; he does not describe the sex acts and she does not reply. A journalist interviews a homeless man and asks the man if he tricks (has sex for cash); the homeless man says he is straight and the interviewer says, "Straight guys trick." An older journalist tells a younger journalist, "You should suck my [anatomical term deleted]." In a dimly lit newsroom scene, we hear double entendres as an older woman and a younger man stand close together in profile, looking at each other as the woman says, "I want it," referring to film footage and the man asks, "How much do you want it?" referring to price and she replies, "You tell me" (the scene ends).
 A dead woman lies face down on a bed, wearing a half-slip and a bra (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A few women wear blouses and sweaters that reveal slight cleavage. Male and female bicyclists wear tight biker shorts.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 7 - A journalist arrives at a home invasion scene before the police and hears four gunshots; he films trails of blood, an automatic rifle on the front steps, a female body with her chest covered in blood while she sits slumped on a couch, a man face down in a large pool of blood, an empty crib and another woman lying face down on a bed, with blood covering one foot and splattered onto the other leg; we see the film footage again in close-ups as a news director reviews it. A police officer beside a car says, "no pulse" and we see a man's body lying on the pavement with his head and neck bloody while two paramedics work on the man and we hear that he suffered gunshot wounds during a carjacking and was DOA. A close-up of a car crash shows a man filming under the open hood of a car, catching footage of an engine engulfed in flames as we hear a woman screaming for several seconds, and see two police officers pull a limp body out of the car's side window; we hear on a TV newscast that the woman suffered smoke inhalation and is in serious condition.
 A police officer speeds after two men and a journalist follows at reckless high speeds as his assistant yells, "There's people dead back there!" and after a short chase, the cruiser flips and crashes (we see no bodies, but later hear the officer is in the hospital). A police cruiser chases two men in an SUV and the SUV slams door-to-door against the cruiser causing it to flip and slide on one side before the SUV flips onto its side with sparks and smoke; a man approaches and shouts to another man that the driver of the SUV is dead and as one man approaches and begins filming the slightly bloody body of the driver, who is still in his seat belt, the driver sits up and shoots the man in the chest three times, leaving a large bloody hole; the driver crawls from the wreckage and limps away as police officers converge on him and shoot him, presumably dead.
 A journalist picks up his assistant and they follow an SUV containing two murderers to a restaurant with all glass walls before calling the police to alert them of the killers' location and he argues with his frightened assistant to go to the corner with a second camera to film a different angle of the arrest; a cruiser parks, enters the shop and the killers start shooting as we hear women screaming and glass breaking (no blood is seen, but three policemen hold their upper arms and bend over in pain).
 A dozen night scenes feature two or more police cruisers with lights flashing and parked at the sites of car crashes and home break-ins. A few scenes feature speeding police cruisers passing other drivers at night and using loud sirens and flashing lights. Several scenes of TV newscasts feature fires with tall flames, a downed airplane cracked mid-fuselage (no victims shown), crumpled automobiles after wrecks, EMT vehicles with empty gurneys waiting for patients, and dramatic dialogue by newscasters about how urban crime is creeping to the suburbs.
 A man trying to steal chain link fence at night to sell for scrap punches a guard unconscious and steals the guards watch; he steals an expensive bicycle, pawns it and purchases a large video camera and a police scanner with which to follow accident and crime reports to film for cash as a freelancer.
 A man removes part of a brake line from another man's van and later while rushing to the scene of an accident, the second man drives into an electric pole; we see the smashed front of the van with some smoke rising and an EMT unit with flashing lights; the injured man lies in a close-up as he is strapped to a gurney, wearing a neck brace and we see his face completely black with soot and covered with thick partially congealed blood and blood covers both hands (we do not see him again).
 A man lying beside a van standing diagonally on a two-lane road has bloody tears on both legs and trousers as a cameraman pulls the body to a position near the rear of the van and elaborately films the scenes from several angles. At several small accident scenes, police guards roughly push a man away and tell him to leave. A journalist tells a wounded man that he ruined the journalist's bargaining position when they argued about the other man's current and future wages; the wounded man tells him, "You're crazy" and dies and we then see a woman reviewing all the footage in close-ups in her office.
 An older woman shouts and screams at a younger man about the low quality of film footage he tries to sell her; he agrees to find more violent and gory incidents that she wants for her news show. An argument ensues and one man walks away as another man shouts and waves his arms angrily. A freelance journalist belittles and bullies his male assistant, threatening to fire him and to "physically hurt him" if he ever makes the same mistake twice. At a one-car crash, a man on a cell phone screams at a cameraman to go away. A news director tells a man who filmed a crime scene that their news should always be like a "Screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut"; she tells him to look for accidents and big crime scenes in good neighborhoods, showing violence in the suburbs. A severely underweight, unemployed man looks for work, but is rejected rudely by several employers. A male and a female detective barge into a TV news office and demand film footage taken at a crash site, but the news director says she knows her rights and refuses to give them the film. A colleague tells a woman that crime scene footage is too graphic for TV and only marginally legal, but she says they need to expand their horizons. Police detectives question a journalist twice about a home invasion, accusing him of withholding information from the police to exploit for violent TV news, but are unsuccessful in bringing charges against him. In an interrogation room, a reporter tells a police detective about his job as he looks into the surveillance camera, "I like to say that if you're seeing me, you're having the worst day of your life." On a laptop screen, we see indexes of video footage titled "Woman kills biker; Toddler stabbed; DWI crash kills driver; Dog attack; Home invasion." Freelance camera journalists are called nightcrawlers and the dusk to dawn they work is the Vampire Shift.
 A man buys a new car and drives far over the speed limit in several scenes, running lights and shouting at his assistant to find faster routes to accident and crime scenes, swerving between other cars as his assistant shouts in fear.
 A cameraman walks into a home beside a burglarized house, rearranges a family's pictures and films the photos, the living room and the couple with their baby as they stand in the yard next door.


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LANGUAGE 9 - About 46 F-words and its derivatives, 13 scatological terms, 8 anatomical terms, 3 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, weird, messed up, roach coach, thief, sweet savior, twerp), stereotypical references to the unemployed mentally ill, ambulance chasers, the homeless, older women, blackmailers, TV news managers, freelance journalists, the police, accident/crime victims, 4 religious profanities (GD), 7 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, Holy [scatological term deleted], God No, Jesus).


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SUBSTANCE USE - We hear that police found 50 pounds of drugs inside a dwelling at the scene of a home invasion, and a news reporter states that a male crime victim picked up a prescription for his wife (drug unknown). A close-up shows a woman blowing on a Breathalyzer (we do not hear or see the results), a woman drinks a Margarita and her date drinks a tall glass of some unknown beverage in a restaurant, and we see a bottle of wine and two clean glasses on a kitchen table.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Mental illness, preying upon others, violence, murder, greed, revenge, freelance reporting, ambulance chasing, blackmail, danger, risk-taking, limits of police authority, the First Amendment.

MESSAGE - Bargaining position is everything in the modern news business model.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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