In their mission serve and protect, two Officers (Gyllenhaal & Peña) form a powerful brotherhood to ensure they both go home at the END OF WATCH. The only guarantee for these officers is that there are no guarantees when patrolling the streets of LA.
Another month, another cop drama. You could be forgiven for skipping it out of hand but that would be a shame because End Of Watch really is quite different. The film follows two LAPD cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Pena) as they carry out their duties. At first the action is viewed through Taylor's handheld camera which he is using for a film project. But viewers need not fear two hours' worth of shaky screens and poor image quality. Director David Ayer himself admitted in an interview that he did not want to be tied to a particular style, so normal cameras are increasingly deployed as the film unfolds. This proves to work well because it adds to the steadily rising dramatic tension.
Camerawork aside, it's the sheer quality of the scriptwriting that immediately stands out. The film's early scenes are a burst of originality; when our two cops respond to a house disturbance, the intimidating perpetrator challenges Zavala to a square, no-weapons fight, which to the surprise of everyone, he duly takes up. Instantly we warm to these two officers, who refuse to hide behind their uniforms and weaponry as they engage with the public in LA's notorious south central district. The dialogue is also sharp as knives and we are treated to buddy-banter as witty as anything seen in previous films of this genre. In one example, Taylor declares to Zavala that he wants a daughter, to which Zavala says "Just don't let her date cops" and Taylor responds "She's not dating anyone.ever!" Even the taboo of race is tackled head-on in a humorous way. Mexican-descended Zavala playfully mocks Taylor for his supposedly white predilections to which Taylor responds by offering to bring him back a burrito after attending a symphony concert. Critics often like to talk about chemistry between actors in romantic films but End of Watch is surely a masterclass in the cinematic portrayal of friendship.
And it's this aspect which helps the audience feel so involved when the film takes a more serious tone. We fear for our heroes as they become embroiled in dealing with a Latino gang linked to the Mexican cartels. This is genuinely frightening because the police appear powerless to respond against a tidal wave of heavy weaponry, faceless crime bosses, drive-by shootings, decapitated bodies and human trafficking. One disturbing sequence sees Taylor and Zavala's fellow officers inadvertently run into this element with profound consequences. It also leads the viewer to conclude that Mexico's cartel problem is coming to America - it's no longer a matter of if but when. Our two cops are soon themselves targeted and even warned by the FBI that hampering the cartels' activity will lead to reprisals against them. Without spoiling the ending, this plays out violently and tragically but with a heartwarming twist at the end.
More broadly, the film carries a strong political theme, vividly portraying an American underclass in crisis as it struggles under the burden of drugs, crime, urban deprivation and lack of opportunities for minorities. The scene where the crack addict mother hides and duct-tapes her children to keep them quiet is particularly difficult to watch. Maybe for this reason, David Ayer has consciously eschewed tackling the corruption of the LAPD (as per 2011's Rampart starring Woody Harrelson), instead keeping our two heroes clean and honest - but never boring - in order to heighten the contrast between the good guys and the ever-worsening patch they have to police. The film is also undoubtedly a tribute to law enforcement officials in America who do a tough job in the face of sometimes enormous risks. It's worth remembering that in 2012 alone, a staggering 120 officers died while on duty in the country.
End Of Watch may have all the standard ingredients of a police-based action drama, but it also brings much, much more to the table. The characters are so believable you sometimes think it's a documentary, while the plot pulls off the feat of simultaneous unpredictability and plausibility right to the end. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is undoubtedly excellent but it's Michael Pena's unpretentious cop who accepts life as he finds it which proves the more honest and endearing portrayal. This in turn helps generate the audience sympathy required for the film's final, devastating scenes. End Of Watch narrowly misses redefining the genre but the caliber of its plot and acting easily place it in the top five of its category.
Entertaining pro-police propaganda film from cop-centric writer/ director David Ayer ('Training Day'). 'End of Watch' is a well paced, brilliantly acted and often-tense picture, that follows the personal lives and work-related misadventures of L.A cops Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. International audiences dismissed this movie as yet another cops and robbers escapade from the man who bought us 'Dark Blue' (reasonably good), 'Training Day' (good), 'SWAT' (average) and 'Street Kings' (quite good). But 'End of Watch' is slightly more than the sum of its parts and executed with such verve / style that you'll be drawn into the story however absurd it may actually be.
'End of watch' also tends to rely on negative stereotypes and isn't above employing clichés e.g. the Hispanic gang-bangers are one obscenity away from self-parody whilst I was kind of surprised that some African American actors would accept roles that hark back to the way they were portrayed in the 60s and 70s. That said, this isn't exactly a whitewash of the police but the scene in which the system is critiqued is far too subtle given the tone of the film as a whole and I'm sure many people would miss it altogether.
Ayer's police procedurals always borrow thematic elements from westerns like 'High Noon' and 'Shoot-out at the OK Corral'. 'End of Watch' is no different, in that the script often refers to the protagonists as "Ghetto gunfighters" and the basic structure revolves around these likeable leads proving how heroic they are (e.g. rescuing a baby from a fire etc) before squaring up to two-dimensional Latino layabouts for a gripping and brutally violent finale.
Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal are on top form, patrolling the mean streets of south central in the midst of a deadly turf war between Black and Hispanic gangs. The leads successfully mange to hold the film together and some of their improvised, buddy cop banter is hilarious and gives the movie a sense of immediacy and realism that was absent in some of Ayer's previous screenplays. 'End of Watch' is a good, well acted film that lets itself down with an over-reliance on ridiculous 'street' parlance, an anachronistic depiction of minorities and doesn't come close to Ayer's underrated, anti-war masterpiece 'Harsh Times' (2005). Even so, its definitely worth a look: Watch it.
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Police officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal, Source Code) and Zavala (Michael Peña, Crash) are partners and best friends. A night-school student in film production, Taylor affixes tiny cameras to his and Zavala’s uniforms to record their daily routines, collecting material for a short video about the real lives of the LAPD. Life is good — until a seemingly routine vehicle check finds the pair stepping on the toes of powerful drug traffickers. Directed by David Ayer (Training Day), End of Watch is a fast-paced cop movie.
Two LAPD cops find themselves on a drug cartel's death list in this gritty action drama from writer/director David Ayer. Patrolling the mean streets of south central Los Angeles, cops Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Peña) intercept a car, confiscating money and guns belonging to a local cartel. But when their investigations draw them ever deeper into the gang's operations, the two find themselves top of the cartel's hit list, forcing them to take the fight to their opponents.