'Demolition' is a tour de force for Jake Gyllenhaal but the film isn't a success

The film stars Gyllenhaal as a Wall Street financier whose life unravels after his wife's death.

Fox Searchlight/AP
Jake Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Demolition."

Jake Gyllenhaal has been racking up an impressive roster of weirdos and renegades in the movies, most recently as the bullish boxer in “Southpaw,” the hypercreepy videographer in “Nightcrawler,” and the doppelgängers in “Enemy.” Not all of these efforts have been altogether successful, either as performances or as movies, but Gyllenhaal is one of the few actors of his generation who, at least in his post-“Prince of Persia” career, has really tried to challenge himself. 

I wish I could say that Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Demolition,” in which Gyllenhaal plays Davis, a Wall Street financier whose life unravels after his wife’s death, is a success. The best I can say is that it’s another tour de force for Gyllenhaal, although his intensity isn’t matched by the movie itself, which sacrifices much of its power by too often settling for easy, nut-brain effects. Grade: C+ (Rated R for language, some sexual references, drug use, and disturbing behavior.)

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