Director & Writer: David Ayer
Main Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick
Before the release of ‘End Of Watch’ you couldn’t pay me to watch another cop film. They’d been played out so much that whenever I watched one it felt like I was watching the same film, with the same forced jokes and the same unbelievable scenarios, the only thing that was different were the actors…
‘End Of Watch’ changed all of that.
There’s nothing in this film that we haven’t already seen before – we’ve got the usual drug raids, gang violence, cop car banter, etc. What makes it different isn’t the fact that it doesn’t anything new, but the fact that it does EVERYTHING better.
Plot: ‘End Of Watch’ takes us into the lives of best friends and LAPD partners Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) and their day-to-day attempts to clean up the crime-riddled streets of South Central, Los Angeles – Most of which is being recorded by Officer Taylor for a film project he’s putting together.
When a suspicious driver catches Officer Taylor and Officer Zavala’s eye they decide to carry out a search on his vehicle, which leads to them discovering a large amount cash and guns. This success prompts them to go a step further and try to out the locations of the other criminals who could be linked with the driver.
Unbeknownst to them their persistence (and success) in tackling South Central’s crime problem results in them being ‘green-lit’ by one of the area’s most notorious cartels, putting both of their lives at stake.
The on-screen chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena is so organic, it doesn’t feel like we’re watching a movie with two actors, but more like we’re a fly on the wall watching two friends. Prior to filming Gyllenhaal and Pena spent 5 months together training with the LAPD – working on firearms training and sitting in on police patrols. These aren’t just trivial facts, these are things that you actually notice when you watch the film.
Especially in the memorable ‘cop-car’ scenes when Gyllenhaal and Peña are clowning on each other about everything from race jokes to having sex with each others sisters. The humour is crude and unpolished at times, but never forced! According to the director (David Ayer) a lot of the jokes in the cop-car scenes were improvised by the actors when the cameras were left rolling, which is why they seem so authentic.
I would be doing this film a massive disservice by recommending it without giving mention to its excellent writing and cinematography.
You would imagine that the constant changing between Officer Taylor’s camera and the film camera would get jarring, but it’s so seamless that you don’t even notice it – if anything it makes the film play out a bit like a ‘documentary’: further adding ‘realness’. Similar to David Ayer’s other masterpiece Training Day (2001), End Of Watch’s pacing is superb, it’s not all action all the time, but every piece of action is meaningful, you really don’t get a chance to switch off during this film… right through to the gripping ending.