Jake Gyllenhaal

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame Peter Parker (Tom Holland) just wants to put aside being Spider-Man for a bit and have fun with his friends on a school trip across Europe. But when elemental creatures appear, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) comes to Peter for help and introduces him to new superhero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Spider-Man: Far from Home is so much fun, but it also manages to handle some emotional beats while adding a whole new dimension to the MCU. Following on from Endgame, Far from Home touches on some of the logistical issues that would come with half of the world’s population returning after five years. People’s homes have been sold to someone else, people’s younger siblings are now older than them, and naturally people have missed a good chunk of what’s happened with their friends and families while they’ve been gone.

It’s the emotional fallout though for Peter Parker that really adds to the pressure he’s feeling. He lost is father-figure and mentor and feels like he has huge shoes to fill while still wanting to live a normal life. A scene where Peter and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) reminisce about Tony Stark and how they are, or are not, coping without him is a wonderful scene that highlights how Far from Home balances the fantastic with the personal.

Far from Home, like Spider-Man: Homecoming, is a teen high school comedy with all the good and bad things that can come with that. There are some cheesy jokes that don’t land or carry on too long, but then there’s also some hilarious moments as the young cast really do feel like a bunch of friends. MJ (Zendaya) has a larger role in this film as she’s sarcastic and funny but thoughtful as she tries to learn to let people be close to her. The teacher Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr) is a standout though and just about everything out of his mouth is hilarious.

Mysterio is an enigma and a character that is very difficult to talk about without going into spoiler territory. Gyllenhaal does a great job of playing the different layers of the character though, and midway through the film there’s a scene where he goes all out with a monologue and it’s magnificent.

The special effects are great too but there’s one sequence that will be talked about as a standout in the MCU for years as all of Peter Parker’s fears come to life. That whole sequence is awe-inspiring as it is so well put together and fits into both the story of the film and Peter’s emotional journey perfectly.

Spider-Man: Far from Home is funny, thrilling and spectacular. The first act isn’t as solid as the latter two as it retreads old ground seen in the previous Spider-Man film, but when the story shifts and certain things are revealed, it becomes something completely thrilling and innovative. Both post-credit scenes are some of the most important and game-changing in the MCU. Spider-Man: Far from Home is a satisfying end to Phase Three of the MCU, and where Phase Four is heading is anyone’s guess. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler-PosterLou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is desperate for work and stumbles upon the world of LA crime journalism where he races to get to the scene of a crime to film the tragedy and then sell the footage to a morning news station. The line between spectator and participant begins to blur as Lou does more and more questionable things in order to get the best footage he can get.

Jake Gyllenhaal is phenomenal as Lou Bloom and it’s the best work of his I’ve seen in ages. Lou is an interesting character. He’s desperate for work so you feel sorry for him and want him to succeed but then as he does begin to have success by filming other peoples misfortunes it becomes clear that he has a warped sense of reality. He’s not a nice guy at all, he is manipulative and greedy but at some points he is oddly charming which really puts you on edge. Lou is a creepy guy that will go to extreme lengths to get what he wants and you can’t take your eyes off of him.

Gyllenhaal is backed up by Rene Russo as Nina, the TV news veteran who he sells his footage to and Riz Ahmed as Rick, Lou’s assistant. Both give great performances throughout and they both bounce off Gyllenhaal brilliantly. The moments where they both realise that there’s something not quite right with Lou and how he perceives the business are surprising in different ways.

Nightcrawler makes you think about the way in which we as a society consume the most violent crimes – but only certain crimes. As Nina says, the news desk only wants stories about “urban crime creeping into the suburbs”. That theme is something that Rick also picks up on but from the opposite side of things when he questions why he and Lou won’t report on a crime involving a black person as the victim.

Nightcrawler is a dark tense film with moments of dark humour. Thanks to the editing, music and performances it feels very restless like you have been up all night experiencing it. Gyllenhaal gives a fantastic lead performance as creepy but determined Lou and with the twists and turns Nightrawler is a thrilling film. 5/5.