4.5Overall Score

One of these movies of which I never heard before, watched the trailer, loved it, got the Rottentomatoes confirm of 90+% and lured my friends to come watch it with me. And boy, it was really worth the time…

I have to say that almost everything about this movie was near perfect and I guess we have to thank the entire Gilroy family for that (Writing, Acting, Directing, Production and Editing). Right from the get-go, the movie sets the exact right tone for what is about to come; it depicts a depressed economy in the not so shiny Los Angeles (aka the real Los Angeles) with a main character who wants to aim for the American Dream but is so weird and awkward about it that he can’t be really taken fully serious about anything he does. The movie also picks up the pace pretty much right away once the stage is set and as the story goes on, it becomes apparent that this is not just a dark crime thriller, this is media satire at its best. The characters are drawn out to be almost comically awkward but not to the extent to make them unbelievable, the portrait of American news broadcasts is a hint more extreme than it is today with a big warning sign to the audience stating; “Hey, look at this, that is what we as a society want to see on TV every morning”. So to keep ratings up and their paychecks coming Rene Russo – who is making a great comeback after her 10 year hiatus – wants more of “the good stuff” and is willingly breaking literally all boundaries.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

So much about what is going on in the movie itself; now why did I like it so much? Well, for starters all the “architectural” elements of the film are in perfect balance. Everything about the actors perfectly fits into the movies dark and grim atmosphere; Jake Gyllenhaal uses his facial expression and structure to play the somewhat derailed yet very ambitious character who really believes in what he is doing and is also willing stepping upon every possible boundary for his own success. His supporting cast also fits just as good – aside from Rene Russo mentioned above – I truly enjoyed the Bill Paxton character with his typical semi-hick and semi-arrogant persona. And also Riz Ahmed is just a truly awesome sidekick with a fitting background to this whole dark and depressing mess they made for themselves. Aside from the acting, a big prop goes to the script which not only tells a new way of the striving for the American Dream but puts some great dialog sequences as the icing on the cake – mostly including Jake Gyllenhaal negotiating about something with somebody. With all these main elements (script, acting, atmosphere and pace), the movie takes us on a somewhat grotesque and dark ride of the aiming for success by taking the local daily news as its vehicle. And since the daily news or television as a whole is something which every person in the audience can find themselves in, it is an extremely interesting vehicle to use for the this “pursuit to happiness”. We all watch the daily news (sometimes the big ones CNN or Fox but sometimes your local CBS broadcast), and of course many things in this movie would never be shown on actual TV. The element of “the more graphic, the better”, “crime in a white rich neighborhood is better than some shooting in Compton” were great reflection of society and what it wants to see and how it wants be thrilled and shocked.

So all in all, this was one of the best movies of the season so far (along with Gone Girl), I enjoyed watching it and was completely enthralled from start to finish. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a stellar performance which will hopefully not go unnoticed by our friends at the Academy.

PS: One question I want to throw out there about the last sequence (hopefully without giving too much away); but did it remind you of the final moments of The Usual Suspects ?

The Good

  • Dark, grim, hopeless, fast
  • Flawless script with an interesting story of the American Dream
  • Great acting by Jake Gyllenhaal

The Bad

  • It does not let you out of the cinema with a good feeling

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  • Running time: 117 min
  • Genre: Thriller, Drama
  • Year: 2014

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