End Of Watch Review

So, what’s the longest you’ve ever put off meeting a deadline?

I saw End Of Watch almost three months ago as part of a mini film festival in Haymarket around the beginning of September.

Coming hot on the heels of seeing the god awful crime caper The Sweeney earlier that day, it was a relief to watch anything that resembled a half decent film.

Which End Of Watch most certainly is.

Only problem being that I forgot to write a review at the time, and am now scrambling my brains for the finer points of director David Ayer’s naturalistic effort.

Fortunately, an online trailer or three is enough to bring most everything screaming back to the surface.

We begin with a shaven haired and still pretty raw cocksure beat officer called Brian Taylor introducing himself to the hidden camera half in and half out of his police uniform.

Turns out Taylor’s recording some of his daily routine in his police station’s locker room for a film class he’s taking.

As always with officers of the law, there has to be a partner in crime, ah, fighting not far behind, and this duly arrives in the Hispanic form of Mike Zavala, who’s a little more camera shy than his colleague at first.

At least he is when half naked.

After some all too sharp banter for a couple of pc plod’s, Taylor and Zavala are in their uniforms and hitting the streets of Los Angeles; and we’re coming along for the ride.

End Of Watch starts out slow, with Ayer, who also wrote the script, heavily playing the realism card.

So there’s plenty of grainy, shaky cam shots of these two police amigos running and driving around the streets of LA with pretty naturalistic dialogue making this film feel like some sort of hollywood version of that american classic tv show Cops.

Except you don’t see too many real life cops who look like Jake Gyllenhaal.

Or Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera come to think of it, who has a supporting role here.

Still, you have to make some trade-off between making a film feel as authentic as possible and getting people to come see it.

And I’d be lying if I said seeing a big name actor on the credits doesn’t make me more interested in a film.

Easing both our on screen cops and off screen viewers into the action gently, Ayer sets up a multicultural LA where wars are waged between the police and the gang cultures of black and Hispanic crews in the city.

So far, so stereotypical.

As the stakes are raised on duty for our still green officers, and the threat of gang violence escalates, so the wisecracks between Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña respectively, follow suit.

Refreshingly, End Of Watch focuses more on the characterisation of its two protagonists rather than expensive and explosive action scenes.

It’s a simple yet frequently ignored idea in hollywood, but action scenes are only really exciting if you care about the people involved.

Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer and many of their modern contemporaries might want to make a note of that one.

And this is what makes End Of Watch more engaging than many other cop movies out there.

Admittedly, the dialogue between Gyllenhaal and Peña is so good that you’ll have to suspend your disbelief of two cops ever being able to come up with such wit or humour.

But this is hollywood after all, a town that’s no stranger to delays in production itself.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2012
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