In a world of Rampart’s and Training Day’s where we see seasoned once honest cops exploiting the system to their own ends it’s nice to go back to the beat and on the road with youthful, honourable cops, throwing themselves in harm’s way for the greater good.
Two L.A cops (Jake Gyllenhal and Michael Peña), in what can only be described as a gangland war zone, begin unintentionally slighting a Mexican cartel attempting to muscle its way into the territory, resulting on a bounty on their heads.
Training Day scribe and debut director, David Ayer has created the ‘found-footage’ buddy cop movie. Ayer sets about establishing Officer Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) with an elective film class to explain the shaky cam aesthetic. Mounted car cams, lapelle cams and Taylor’s hand held camera serve as the P.O.V (point of view) for the film and because of years being bombarded with the television aesthetic of COPS– it isn’t as distracting as you may expect.
And yet, on the other hand there's the found footage look echoed in the antagonists of the film, without explanation. It’s a major distraction wondering why the gang members would document their crimes when the police could use it to incriminate them.
The chemistry and bond between Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Peña) is the beating heart of End of Watch. The personal insight into each of the guys during their in car conversations, their musings on future, family and the glimpses into their personal life in the midst of the inevitable, impending danger – is admirable. Both actors deliver equally sincere performances.
Ayer doesn't pull any punches with the obstacles that he throws at his leading men. They stumble into such callow, moral abhorrence that you’ll be left gasping. The major problem with End of Watch is the finale. After a film anchored in the jarring reality of the mean streets of L.A, the ending feels as ridiculous as the car flying at the end of Grease.
End of Watch is elevated on the shoulders of its leads and their harsh reality; until the filmmakers drop it on its head and reduce it to a frustrating ‘Hollywood’ cop film.
Directed by: David Ayer
Written by: David Ayer
Starring: Jake Gylllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, Frank Grillo, Natalie Martinez