Nightcrawler (2014) Miller Meter-6.5/10

Directed By:  Dan Gilroy

Written By:  Dan Gilroy

Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed

R     1 h 57 min – Crime | Drama | Thriller

 

A lonely and annoyingly eager to please Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) who’s desperate for a steady job finally finds some solace tumbling down the rabbit hole of L.A. powered crime journalism.  The film opens with Lou scrapping some pieces of fence for cash.  He bombards the scrapyard manager trying to land a job and proves to us that we’re in for a long awkward ride.  He’s of course turned down due to his wacky enthusiasm which he thinks is a plus point.  On his way home he drives past the scene of a car accident.  While watching creepily from the distance he sees a rugged camera crew roll up ready to film the carnage.  As the crew is leaving he finds out what they were doing, and that it paid, which was enough for him.  He went at the crew headstrong and the boss Joe (Paxton) brushed him off like the pest he was being.  Lou then steals and pawns his way into a camcorder of his own and BAM!  He’s in business!  He starts off pretty rough, as you could imagine, but quickly forms a business relationship with Nina (Russo) who’s a washed up TV news producer who’s just as desperate as he is to make advances in the field.  Right off the bat Lou’s dedication and willingness to put himself where few people with any shred of social know-how would, he starts getting some of the best footage of all the crews running.  As his fix becomes harder and harder to satisfy, you see his rope of personal ethics start to unravel.  He eventually takes on an apprentice named Nick (Ahmed) who’s pretty useless and equally desperate for work as Lou once was.  Lou takes him on and starts teaching him the ropes and along the way throws the quirkiest management coaching at him I’ve ever seen.  At any error or flub Lou would regurgitate some Tony Robins life skills shit all over him.  Sadly, Nick didn’t catch on to the fact that Lou was just a spun out creeper until it was too late.  Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job (as he typically does) of playing an awkwardly creepy yet somehow loveable maniac.  As his relationship with Nina matures from a business relationship to a romantic one you really see just how creepy he can be.  Several critics compared this performance to that of “Prisoners” yet I disagree.  He was creepy in Nightcrawler, but he could have pushed it more.  There were several times where it would build up to something totally abberated and twisted and what I got was disappointing.  That didn’t go for the plot generally, just a few scenes specifically.  When the movie finally started building towards the very end, I was totally satisfied at crescendo.  One big bummer about this flick was that it was a Halloween release and NOTHING about it was scary.  I understand that it’s JUST a thriller with a previously unexplored plot line and all but I felt it was advertised as more than that, especially with a Halloween release.  Creepy? Yes. Intense? At times, sure.  Scary? Nope.  There were several scenes that were more intense than others, and most of them were done very well.  The first hour of the movie was pretty slow going, which was fine as we were establishing a pretty slow going kind of character.  I did, however, start to lose hope that it would pick up.  It turned it around though towards the end.  I really enjoyed the story as I haven’t really seen one like it before, especially with the gritty take this one had.  It was pushing for a noir kind of flavor, and at times achieved it masterfully.  Overall, it was a good flick, with one hell of an ending, which to me can absolutely make or break a movie.  Keep yourself patient for the first 45 minutes or so and it will pay off at the end.

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Miller Meter-10/10

Directed By: Doug Liman

Written By: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

PG 13     1 h 53 min – Action | Sci-Fi

 

Well here’s the first blow-out blockbuster of the summer starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson.  Earth has been invaded by a relentless alien race referred to as “mimics” and they’re a seemingly undefeatable force.  Man unites and wins one battle against them via superstar soldier Rita Vrataski (Blunt).  With their recent victory our armed forces decide to attack again in an all-out assault to end the war once and for all.  Major William Cage (Cruise) is a PR rep for the military, spinning the stories in the news to give society some hope that we’ve got a shot against them.  He is called upon by General Brigham (Gleeson) to give the people a first-hand depiction of battle by storming the front lines in combat.  Of course Cage refuses, due to his lack of experience and even less courage, which of course doesn’t fly with the General.  Next thing he knows, Cage wakes up at an outpost preparing for battle.  Unable to convince the cut-throat Master Sergeant Farell (Paxton) of his true identity, Cage winds up in an airship heading to battle.  He lands on the beach and has no clue how to use his weapon riddled mechanical suit and ends up dying within minutes; only to wake up once again at the base he was at earlier.  He re-lives this several times when finally he realizes that no matter what he does he re-lives that day over and over.  In battle he sees the heroic Rita and attempts to save her.  After living the battle so many times he comes to know what’s comin’ and ends up saving her life.  She catches on to what’s happening and tells him to find her when he wakes up…easier said than done.  Each time he wakes up again, he maneuvers himself through the day figuring out how he can land a conversation with the illustrious heroine.  He finds that like him, she once re-lived the same day over and over, dying each time to wake up again at the beginning.  In order to outsmart the enemy they form an alliance and relive the day over and over getting closer to victory each time.  The plot of this flick is what really caught me.  The story is edgy (pun?) and more fun than I’ve had in a sci-fi flick in a long time.  The dialogue was spot on, it never got cheesy, it never lost me, and it was complex enough to keep me focused without totally spinning me out either.  Tom Cruise made the movie; it’s really nice to see him in his element again.    He made the character totally believable and proved once again why he’ll go down as one of the great action heroes of our time.  Much of his power came from his co-star.  Emily Blunt was the meat and potatoes of the story; she gave it the touches it needed to be perfect.  She brought comfort, sex appeal and at times some much needed comic relief to an otherwise dark story.  She played her part perfectly.  I loved that it never became solely about love, nor was it solely based on defeating the enemy either.  It was a perfect balance of comradery, desperation and love as well.  One could expect that director Doug Liman would really pull out all the stops following his success with the “Bourne” franchise and he did exactly that.  The special effects were mind-blowing.  It was as if “Elysium” and “Battle LA” met, fell in love, and had a baby that grew to be a success its parents only dreamed of being.  The cinematography was gripping and only a few times did it move to fast to follow.  The battle scenes were adrenaline fueled and epic every single time.  Anytime an action movie has soldiers storming a beach I’m excited, there’s just somethin’ about it.  This one was great because we got to relive it a few times with different angles and more progress made each time.  It’s easy to assume that reliving the same day over and over again would get rote for an audience but it never did, which is pretty impressive.  An absolutely killer cast with explosive chemistry, amazing special effects and battle sequences, perfect cinematography and a refreshingly original premise land this one a 10 on the Meter.