End Of Watch
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DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by David Ayer
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez
Open Road Films
Originally Released: September 8, 2012
Essentially a "brothers-in-arms" tale, End of Watch tells a mesmerizing story that examines a period in the life of two LAPD cops that holds no punches and brings forth a solid reflection of contemporary issues. Coupled with some unique filming combinations and crisp appearance, the movie is gritty and compelling and will become a benchmark for cop movies in years to come.
Two LAPD partners, beat cops in cruisers, work the streets of the urban landscape of Los Angeles. The story follows the policing and personal lives of Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña), as they begin documenting their own work through personal cameras while enforcing the law.
What begins as an almost-stereotypical contrast between three cultural gangs (African-Americans, Mexicans, and the Police) in a very "reverse" Grand Theft Auto manner, evolves into an abrasive drama drawing on more modern and gritty realities rarely addressed in film.
As the story of Taylor and Zavala progresses, their police work crosses paths with the criminal undertakings of Mexican cartels. When their work steps into an ICE undercover operation, the two city cops find themselves on the radar of the Sinaloa Cartel – placing them into a situation beyond their depths, which may put them on the front line of an unexpected war filled with deadly risks.
End Of Watch totally ignores the stereotypical super-detective stories of the past. This ain’t Martin and Riggs, and it focuses instead on the day-in/day-out risks of everyday police work. With modern media depicting American cops in shades of good cops vs. bad pigs; director David Ayer instead depicts a more realistic and gritty canvas of deep shades of grey.
End Of Watch does a magnificent job at capturing shifting issues and priorities in the contemporary landscape. As the movie begins focusing on your traditional gangbanging and drug dealing, it shifts into some darker fields, such as human trafficking and the involvement of the Mexican Cartels as very real law enforcement concerns in the modern age.
While the movie was initially promoted as a film made up of dashcams and video camera footage, End Of Watch instead is more of a movie that integrates these features. The camera work and lighting is spectacular, mixing the traditional film style with reality television / documentary filming, creating a truly immersive effect.
Television-style helicopter aerial views are thrown in with a dizzying flow to stunning effect. The rendering on-screen is extremely sharp, with a clearer definition. The technical approach to making this movie is the star of the show and worth the price of admission alone – you’ll find yourself magnetized to the screen.
Jake Gyllenhaal puts in one of the performances of his career in End Of Watch. The actor is continuing to perfect his craft and this movie is an evident indication that he is developing a solid realism and dedication to the art. His on-screen chemistry with Michael Peña is phenomenal, as Peña himself puts in a fantastic performance as well. This relationship is the key to the flow and crux of the movie, resulting in one of the most memorable friendships on screen.
There is a great deal of symbolism and foreshadowing involved in the movie, though it plays second fiddle (rightfully so) to the literal impact of the grittiness of the story. The surface tale is what is important in End Of Watch, and while the symbolic bits provide a great deal of strength, they enhance the realness of the movie.
Evolving relationships and character interrelations add much solidarity to the overall piece, placing much emphasis to the interconnectedness of characters and the flowing subplot of “the butterfly effect.”
Simply put, End Of Watch is a phenomenal movie. It will captivate you and impact you emotionally. There are sobering and harsh moments in the film, and coalesced with the solid storywriting, excellent performances, and ground-breaking efforts in technical approach, End Of Watch will become one of those flicks people will point to for years as a classic.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5