End of Watch – Review

End of Watch – Review

End of Watch Review – by FilmFellaLozz – 7.2/10

Following up his previous L.A outings in Harsh Times (2005) and Street Kings (2008), David Ayer now brings us his third movie, End of Watch; another gritty portrayal of South Central in all it’s grimy glory. Sharing writing credits for Training Day, S.W.A.T  and Dark Blue, you may be able to see a trend forming.  He’s one who’s definitely sticking to an area he knows, but there’s nothing wrong with that; just as long as he can bring something different to the table whilst at the same time adhering to a specific formula. He may find himself a nice little niche if he’s able to achieve this.

End of Watch sees a few days in the life of L.A.P.D partners Taylor and Zavala; Jake Gyllanhaal and Michael Peña. When a run of the mill day turns sour as the duo stumble across some gang related crime scenes, the pair find out that they’ve gotten themselves into something much higher than their pay grade. Facing obstacles head on and using unconventional methods at times to get the bad guys, are what these two hardened buddy cops do so well. But there’s a line….and when you cross the wrong bald, mumbling Hispanic gangster line, all the gun-toting maniacs come out to play.

Ayer ramps up the tension by finding any means necessary to get a camera right in on the action by utilizing the handheld footage technique. This is accomplished mainly by Taylor’s new camera that he flicks on occasionally to record….well anything as they go about cruising and circling their beat. The other is a badge camera on their uniforms. This found footage style does work, for the most part.

The action is exhilarating in sections; really on the edge of your seat stuff. It’s a shame though, that the concept is let down by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any reason for using the technique in the first place. Within the movie, the footage captured plays no part in the narrative; even though there is so much emphasis put upon it. The sergeant telling him to put the camera away on several occasions is one example. The second downfall of this is that scenes/shots that don’t involve the two leads are still available for us to see. Here, it should have been all out handheld or none at all. My vote would’ve been none at all. That shaky all over the place camera-work can be effective for action stuff. Just look at the Bourne movies.

Overlooking this, if you can (because I had trouble), the movie in its entirety is actually pretty good, ticking off the boxes for action, drama, with little incisions of humour. And the two of them really work well together; both actors carrying off a number of emotions and their natural rapport and banter is evident throughout. You would’ve seen Michael Peña in numerous movies before, but this is a stand out performance. He has a soft, mild-mannered demeanor, but always with an intensity that feels scarily real.  Gyllenhaal is good; his role somewhat reminiscent of Jarhead. But even so, the two of them have a chemistry that convinces us that they are partners in crime(fighting).  And the recorded footage element allows us to see a little closer into these guys’ lives.

With a lot to tell about these two cops, character development goes out of the window with anybody else in this. Namely, the bottom feeding, end of chain Hispanic miscreants that represent the foe; the people we should be scared of. But we don’t know anything about them, other than that they talk stupidly fast, with every other would being fuck. Annoying though, when that’s the only word you understand. And they weren’t even speaking Spanish! The gang felt like they were just some low-rent gringos for hire, and as such, didn’t really impose a credible threat.

All in all, I would say that out of Ayers’ three L.A based crime capers, this one is probably the best. Unfortunately, what made the movie work in terms of action was the gritty feel from the in-film cameras; but it was also where the movie stopped short of being great and only finds itself in the realm of good, but could be better territory. Although, saying that, somebody gets a knife in the eyeball. That’s pretty cool. Extra mark for that!


One Response to End of Watch – Review

  1. Mark Walker says:

    A flawed movie but a good one when it concentrates on the rapport between the cops. The bad guys were very poorly written and like you mention, the camera angles don’t always work but overall a good movie. Great write-up Lozz.

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