Opening with Ghyllenhaal’s Louise Bloom trying to fence metals stolen with violence and trying to talk himself into a job, we already know that his immensely polite and wide-eyed openness is a thin veneer; Bloom is a unique and distinctive anti-hero.
Speaking fluently in the language of teach-yourself-business books and self-help courses, Bloom flagrantly manipulates everyone around him in single-minded pursuit of the American Dream.
Blundering into a career as a freelance night reporter, Bloom recruits down-and-out Rick (Riz Ahmed) as navigator and lookout. By sheer determination, Bloom starts selling news footage to a local station.
With no background in journalism, and no qualms over ethics or legality, Bloom doesn’t cross any moral or ethical lines because he doesn’t recognise them. He has no moral compass, only the negotiating skills of the free market.
He will, without hesitation, stoop to rearranging the bodies to frame a better shot; film the dead and dying in closeup, withold evidence from the police, and when rival veteran news reporter Loder (Bill Paxton – Hatfeilds and McCoys) scoops him, Bloom even stoops to sabotage.
Able to spout endless management theory about personal development and negotiating tactics, Bloom is a monster; if not an American Psycho, then a genuine American sociopath content to use everyone around him.
His treatment of station news editor Nina (Rene Russo – Thor, Thomas Crown Affair) is coldly calculating and still shocking, a new depth of callousness that tips over beyond exploitation into abuse.
Driven byond recklessness, prepared to get himself and other people killed in pursuit of his own American Dream, Bloom is as unhinged as Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle or King of Comedy‘s Rupert Pupkin; as morally bankrupt as Wolf of Wall Street‘s Jordan Belfort or There Will Be Blood‘s Daniel Plainview. Bloom has just the kind of ambition of the tycoons who built America, scrambling over the bodies of the victims and the down-trodden.
This is entirely Ghyllenhaal’s movie, ably supported by Ahmed, Russo and Paxton; all of whose characters come to realise they are dancing with the devil far, far too late. RC
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Genre: Thriller, drama
Running time: 1 hr. 57 min.
Cast: Jake Ghyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton