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Jake and Michael have the most amazing on-screen chemistry that makes the viewers believe they're truly best friends and police partners. The way the script was written allowed David Ayer to elicit an incredible range of emotion from the viewers. It's hilariously funny during car scenes between Jake and Michael, playing on relatable awkward topics of sex, dating, and other things best friends would joke about, yet incredibly serious, showing just how intense and dangerous police officers' jobs in South Central LA can be. The use of Jake's hand-held camera gives a Paranormal Activity feeling (without the headache) that adds to the "realness" of the film. I highly recommend this film and challenge anyone to not be completely moved by the end of it.
When I actually sit down and think about it, there aren't many good
movies about your average, every day police officer. There are a couple
notable television series', like "Hill Street Blues" and the now dated
but oddly fascinating reality series "Cops", but on film, these guys
don't get a lot of luck. I guess everyone would rather see movies about
undercover officers or detectives. Well for anyone like me who's been
waiting for it, here it is. End Of Watch, an excellent take on the
genre. It may not be perfect, but it's unique and shows the day to day
life more effectively than most if any cop movies I've seen, and as
such I think it will one day be essential viewing for fans of the
In the film we meet Brian Taylor, an ex-marine working as a police officer while he works his way through law school. He also just so happens to be taking a class in filmmaking and is filming his experiences to make a documentary for said class, and this is where we get much of our view into the film from. Featured frequently in the film is his partner Mike, often called Z. After stumbling upon a drug-lord at a routine traffic stop, they quickly fall into trouble with the cartel and have to fight their way through it while still trying to figure out where it's all coming from.
The great thing about this mockumentary/found footage style isn't so much the way it's able to present the action of being a cop realistically (which it does but so do normally shot movies), but it better gives us an understanding of what happens inbetween the action. Being a fly on the wall in the various dull, inappropriate, and often times hilarious conversations the two have when patrolling brings the film a much needed dose of comic relief, but the kind that never feels forced. It's all set up naturally. This really gives a chance for stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena to shine as well as they fit so naturally into these characters, often sounding unscripted whether or not they are. They play them as regular guys instead of complex characters which may make them a little less compelling, but all the more fun to watch.
The film also mixes in a variety of other video sources from the dashboard cams of the police cruisers to security cameras. This really benefits the style as a whole. 99% of the time, using the self-shot, found footage for an entire film can come off as gimmicky and unnecessary, but by using a variety of sources the director is able to keep the realistic tone consistent while downplaying the gimmick idea and instead choosing to use Brian's self shot footage and monologues to the camera only when they prove most effective to the story.
Along the way the film is also interspersed with subplots of Brian meeting his new girl Janet, played by Anna Kendrick who makes a memorable impression despite her little screen time, as well as Z and his wife having a baby. While I find it hard to really complain about Anna Kendrick (she's just so damn cute! And she looked stunning on stage introducing the film), these subplots, while important for character development, are thrown in a little too randomly throughout and mess with the overall flow of the film. It's not a huge complaint as I've seen it done worse in other movies, but it could've been solved with some tighter editing. But who knows, this was the premiere I saw, studios still often tweak movies before wide-release.
Fortunately for writer/director David Ayer, this is really the only complaint I have about the film. The entire movie is fairly well written. I did find the dialogue of a lot of the street thugs to be cliché and racially stereotypical, but the things Brian and Z say are priceless throughout and help you deal with a lot of the more serious scenes, and there are quite a few of them. For as entertaining and light-hearted as it is at times, End Of Watch has many dark, brutally violent, and emotionally impacting scenes that are not for the feint of heart. They do ultimately seem necessary though as the film needs action to keep it going, and to create the realistic document of day to day police life it's trying to create, which does get pretty brutal sometimes despite the mostly mundane times in between. The important thing though is that the film is able to balance all of these moments so well.
David Ayer has dedicated what seems to be his whole career to police movies. Most are mediocre to bad (Street Kings), some are genre classics (Training Day), but I think End Of Watch is by far his finest. It easily has the most likable characters, and as such the most emotional involvement for the audience, which thus creates the most tension in the high risk, action scenes. It has the most believable story of any of his movies, or most cop movies for that matter, and lastly it just told in an interesting way. Neither the cop story, found footage action or fly on the wall comedy genres are anything new, but End of Watch takes old ideas and fits them together to make something interesting.
In conclusion, it's tough to go wrong with End Of Watch if you're a fan of the genre. Even if you're not particularly fond of cop movies, I'd still recommend it. It's a highly entertaining, tension filled ride of a movie. It may not be as deep as some other movies coming out now, but it really brings you into another world well. It's well written, well directed, well acted, and was well enjoyed by the whole crowd. Check it out.
If you want to be at the edge of your seat the entire movie you should
definitely watch this. I went to a screening a long time ago so the
scenes may have changed a bit and maybe made a bit easier on the viewer
but the version we saw was absolutely AMAZING movie. The story grips
you all along and drags you without giving you a moment to look away
from the screen. If you like intense movies like Crash, Stuck or Drive
then this is for you.
Everyone applauded after the movie finished at the screening. The story is just so real and so intense that makes your hair stand straight.
The good thing is that from the first second you get into the movie until the very end. Its a story of love and intense action combined that is real not superficial. Its something that could be happening right now in your neighborhood.
It's not hard to tell that David Ayer grew up on the mean streets of
South Central, Los Angeles. Training Day, The Fast and the Furious,
Dark Blue and S.W.A.T. all showcase his passion for writing screenplays
about these streets and the role that police officers play in them. His
two films as director (Harsh Times and Street Kings) showed that he
could also direct hard hitting dramas depicting the underbelly of the
L.A. and the police force. End Of Watch marks Ayer's second film as
both writer and director.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as a two young officers in the Los Angeles Police Department. Using the "home footage" format of filmmaking, End Of Watch shows us the ups and downs of these two young officers as they work, love and fight in the streets of Los Angeles.
In terms of subject matter this film doesn't cover anything really different. Its about cops dealing with their issues at home and on the job. This topic has been covered countless times but what makes End Of Watch different and better then many of its predecessors is that it holds realism as its number one priority. This is one of the most realistic portrayals of police life ever put to celluloid. The day to day lives of these two best friends are shown in a format that is both convincing and horrifying. It doesn't flinch away when showing the disturbing aspects of this high pressure career.
Using everyday video sources (chest mounted cameras, vehicle cameras, P.O.V angels, aerial shots from police choppers) definitely gives the film an unprecedented level of proximity to cops in the line of duty. Unfortunately, this format doesn't always work. Some chaotic scenes become a little bit confusing when the camera is constantly changing from first person shots to third person angles. But for the most-part it works well.
Gyllenhaal and Peña provide us with two highly believable characters and their chemistry is palpable. Whether they're talking about the women in their lives or having a friendly argument about racial stereotypes, these two actors ensure that we stick with their characters through every step of the way. Gyllenhaal continues to solidify himself as one of the best actors around and Peña delivers one of his best performances to date.
It's got a great script and a focused story that is handled confidently and told well. David Ayer has crafted an intense, hard hitting drama that benefits from the two excellent performances by the two leads.
This is hands down the best cop movie i have ever seen, nothing depicted here is new, gangs, money, drugs, torture, cops, death, etc...it is the way that its depicted that makes it stand out, the last time that these issues were well shown was in SHIELD. Jake gives his best performance yet, he really does stand out all the way till the end him and his partner play amazing cops. You really feel the intensity and reality of thee life of a cop shown through Jake's recordings, its just amazing how it all feels so real...you will not regret watching this film if you can handle it that is... This movie will keep you glued to the seat till the very end. End of watch was a great watch.
This was a real unique journey in drama. A mix of studio camera and innovative character cameras interwoven with the story. Casting brought two very strong actors together and their chemistry was right on target. The plot was simple but the ingredient that put this film over the top was realism and believability. Yes it is very raw and if I got a dollar for every "F-bomb" I could by a home in Malibu for sure. Realism is the main course and this film would not lose it's true identity. I found what really put this movie in the must see category is that ...One minute your laughing and the next you're crying. There are very few films that can achieve this element with this level of quality. This is, without a doubt, one of the very best films of the year.
If I were to pitch you a movie about two police officers who are
partners on patrol in South Central Los Angeles, one of your first
inclinations might be "not another buddy copy comedy." While "End of
Watch" is often funny, the newest film from "Training Day" writer David
Ayer, is no comedy.
Ayer, who spent a lot of time in South Central, takes the found footage approach to his latest film featuring the LAPD in the spirit of modern trends and perhaps the show "Cops."
It's hard to tell if Ayer's exaggerating, but a lot of dangerous stuff happens to Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Pena) despite being beat cops. So much so that they get involved with the wrong Mexican gang, and their attempts to go above and beyond to protect and serve put them in the line of fire.
Gyllenhaal and Pena have incredible chemistry as two cops who are best friends as well as partners. They epitomize the modern "bromance" in a number of ways, joking around, giving each other a hard time, offering love/dating advice with hyper-masculine sarcasm, etc. Ayer takes time to show these men out of their blues frequently to humanize them in a critical way. On the job, they are often cocky, proud and reckless, pushing the line of appropriate police behavior and protocol. They jump back and forth between making laudable, responsible choices and borderline police brutality.
The portrait that this paints of law enforcement feels so much more authentic than we're normally treated to in cop films and police procedurals on television. They are heroes and good, honorable men, but that doesn't make them beacons of morality. No matter how much you believe in the quickly escalating plot of "End of Watch," there's no disagreement to be had over the authenticity of the characters and the environment they operate in.
Although we do get independent "episodes" in which Taylor and Zavala respond to calls and find more than they bargained for, there's a through-line involving a powerful Mexican drug cartel and the gang that enforces it. Ayer glamorizes these thugs a little bit, but it makes them formidable villains in the story. As things come to a boil, the realism of the film really unravels in favor of a more compelling, heart-pounding finale.
Ayer takes certain liberties with the found footage style as well. The premise involves Taylor filming everything for a school project or something. He has a hand-held camera but also cameras positioned in the squad car, and ones that clip onto their uniforms. The gangs also carry cameras around to film their violent escapades. At times, however, we can't tell who is supposed to be holding the camera like when Taylor starts making out with his girlfriend, Janet (Anna Kendrick). Neither is holding the camera, so that's a bit strange.
Still, that filmmaking style does more good than harm to the film. Say what you will about the found footage trend, but this is an appropriate example that really works. The extra layer of realism and authenticity that the technique gives to a film really goes miles in favor of "End of Watch."
Humor is an unexpected benefit of this film as well. Michael Pena has failed to be funny in films including "Tower Heist" and "30 Minutes or Less," but he succeeds in territory that blends it with the dramatic in this very organic way. It would be impressive if most of the dialogue in this film, at least between him and Gyllenhaal, weren't improvised given how natural it flows.
It sounds like a stretch to consider this one of the better acted films of the year, but Gyllenhaal and Pena should've been considered for awards contention. The nature of found footage detracts from what we tend to associate with/look for in an Oscar-worthy performance. We expect authenticity from found footage and only comment when it goes poorly, not when it's done exceptionally well. Having seen enough films made in the found footage style, no other two actors have done better in this genre.
"End of Watch" offers an intense look at the life of L.A.'s finest and a harrowing portrait of life in the barrios and gang-ridden parts of L.A. Although exaggerated at crucial points, it shows what can happen when officers try and step out of their clearance level. At the least, it's one of the best films found footage has given us to date.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This may contain spoilers if you consider description of a few scenes
from the movie as such, so continue reading at your peril...
I must say I am lucky that I didn't have to pay to see this movie. For starters I hate shaky camera work as it induces headaches and adds nothing to make the movie more watchable or more authentic/credible, and cops making a documentary with a camera while on duty, come on lets get real here!!. It is laughable to see a cop with a camera in his one hand and his gun in the other going after hardened criminals with sub-machine guns, who coincidently hate cops to their guts. What's even more laughable is when a woman cop is in stress and calls for help through the police radio, and our heroes get in there the first thing they see is a male officer sitting on the sidewalk with a knife fully embedded into his right eye (and certainly all the way to his brain), giving directions to them as nothing really serious happened to him, and his remarks about his own situation while he is transported to the ambulance is something to be heard to be believed (talk about bad acting). Then there is the scene were our two sidekicks were showered by machine gun bullets by not one but - get this - 4 different criminals without taking a serious hit. Then the gangsters almost having a party after they kill (or think that they did) our heroes, taking it slowly with their SMG on their shoulders moving around like cowboys with no hurry to leave the crime scene and then get shot by incoming police officers like flies without even being able to return a shot.....
Shot in documentary style... says IMDb.. I love documentaries for their true to life aspect, but this movie ain't one of them. In fact I really don't know what this movie is about, IMO it is just a waste of your hard earned money, unless of course hearing F**K before and after every other word is your kind of entertainment... for me it simply is two pollux + two hallux down.
Unlike many of the current crop of macho cop dramas, End of Watch plays mainly to the grit of the daily challenges of patrolling the mean streets of South Central LA in the "Shootin' Newton" division. Unlike the stunning LA Confidential, with a historical story line, End of Watch is done in the cinema ver'ite' style - in a realistic real cops on duty in the LA war zone frame. The casting in this movie is picture perfect, with each actor giving in depth performances.The story line brings the Mexican / US drug problem into crystal clarity. Initially, the story fails to coalesce, and the video cam work is a bit disjointed and over done at the outset, but once you settle in to cinematic method, the film gets a hold on you. Definitely a movie for any law enforcement aficionados collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
End of Watch was OK. Entertaining enough but I would say just wait for
DVD/blu ray. It's supposed to be one of those Blair witch or
cloverfield type movies where as the viewer you are supposed to be
watching "found footage." In the beginning, the movie establishes that
Jake Gyllenhaull has a hand-held camcorder while also having, along
with his partner, a minicam pinned to their uniforms. My main gripe,
however, is that there are camera shots interspersed throughout the
film that are not from any camera point of view. This breaks the rule
of "found footage" movies. For instance, Jake is recording his partner
kick open a locked door from the front of an empty house. All of a
sudden though we cut to a shot from inside the house just to see his
partner bust open the door and them coming through with guns drawn.
Yet, no one is in the house so who's camera are we looking through?
Then we are suddenly back looking through Jake's camcorder. It just
didn't make sense and it happens a little too often. It's like the
director wanted to include certain shots but couldn't think of how to
include them so he just threw them in there and just hoped no one
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