Nightcrawler is a 2014 American thriller film written and directed by Dan Gilroy. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom, a "sociopath" stringer who records violent events late at night in Los Angeles and sells the footage to a local television new station. The Chicago Sun-Times called Gyllenhaal's performance "supremely creepy", and it has been compared to a young Robert De Niro and his performances in the film Taxi Driver.
Some see Nightcrawler is a shattering critique of both modern-day media practice and consumer culture". I do agree. However, this film is much more than. It is also about entrepreneurship and all the issues built around it, such as objectives and performance, human relations, managing employees, expectations management, hierarchy and chain of command, respect, aspirations, personal motivations, envy, and bargaining of power.
While driving home, Petty thief Louis "Lou" sees a car crash and pulls over (the event). Stringers—freelance photojournalists—arrive and record the scene of the accident. One of the stringers tells Lou that they sell their footage to local news stations to make some money. Inspired by the event, Lou sees the event as an opportunity too, so he decided to steal a bicycle and trades it for a camcorder and a police radio scanner (the required equipment). Lou records the aftermath of a fatal carjacking and sells the footage to Nina, morning news director of KWLA 6. She tells him the station is especially interested in footage of violent incidents in affluent areas (a real need). Lou hires an assistant, Rick, to help him as a conductor while he drives. As Lou's work gains traction, he buys better equipment and a faster car (assets improvement means to be the first at the scene and an impact on the quality of the footage too; consequently a higher selling price).
Money is flowing and this leads Lou to a better life. He can afford certain treats here and there. However, wanting to obtain personal recognition and more money, Lou makes a habit of intentionally causing dangerous situations well-deserved to be recorded. Lou sabotages one of the stringer's van; when it crashes, the stringer is severely injured and Lou records the aftermath. On the night that Lou had planned his biggest and riskiest set up (minute 83 of the film), Lou tells Rick his business plan to take the firm to the next level. Rick is promoted to vice president and Lou invites Rick to say a figure as his new salary. Rick hesitates but finally says a figure, he, later on, realises It could have been a much higher one. But the deal was already closed, at least in the eyes of Lou. However, on that same night, scared Rick demands half the money Lou stands to make, threatening to tell the police about Lou's crimes (bargaining of power). On the following scene, Lou and Rick arrive at the scene of an exchange gunfire. Lou urges Rick to film the gunman (Lou knew the gunman was still alive), claiming he is dead. The wounded gunman shoots Rick. As Rick lies dying, (minute 103 of the film), Lou films him and both have the following staggeringly cruel conversation:
Rick: You saw him. You saw him!
Louis: I can't jeopardize my company's success to retain an untrustworthy employee.
Louis: You took my bargaining power, Rick. You used it against me and you would have done it again. Just admit it!
Rick: I do not know. I do not know….
Louis: I know it, Rick. I just know it.
Interrogated by the police, Lou fabricates a story about the men in the gunfire; the police suspects he is lying, but cannot prove it. Lou is released of any charges to hire a team of interns and new vans to expand his business.
In fact, nowadays and viewing the film from the entrepreneurial standpoint, there are quite a few interesting messages that deserve particular attention. However, to me, a key question is that of bargaining power and human aspirations. Should Lou have ever shared his business plan with Rick? Should Rick have ever taken Lou´s bargaining of power? Should Lou have ever employed anyone in the first place?
Knowledge is key. However, to make the right use of it at all times it is even more important.
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