End of Watch (2012)
Maybe a tad too realistic a tale for my tastes… but when has being too realistic been a valid criticism of art that imitates life?
End of Watch is an ultra-realistic tale about 2 cops whose partnership over the years cemented a bond that goes beyond brotherhood. For all of the attempts made my films to capture the raw emotion of people through the eyes of the actors playing them, many fell short due to a number of reasons; End of Watch manages to nail it.
Outside of Saving Private Ryan and Passion of The Christ, I cannot recall many movies that had the person next to me literally crying; End of Watch managed to do it. This wasn’t a high-powered detective story, an action movie, or a murder mystery; it was a day in the life of 2 LAPD officers as they goof around with fellow cops trad shots with Mexican drug dealers, and maintain a home life at the same time.
Jake Gyllenhaal seems to be the go-to guy for realistic dramas these days, having played in movies such as Jarhead and Brothers where his acting chops were put to the test. Jake has always been good, but none of his former movies compares to the chemistry he has with Michael Pena in this film. Had you no knowledge that Jake and Michael were actors, you would probably believe that they were the genuine article, or at the very least – actors who are really good friends in life.
The cops were good but the gangsters were better – some of them being downright scary and ultra-real. Maurice Compte as “Big Evil” gets the mvp for being the scariest and is pretty much the type of gangster that you see in your nightmares. The best comedy relief however was a familiar face in Cle Shaheed Sloan as “Mr. Tre”, an original Blood gang member and man of honor. The lines read by Tre and his exchanges with the 2 cops were enough to have me in tears laughing.
End of Watch was a twister of emotions as it had me laughing in one scene and cringing with horror in another. The camera work was unique to say the least, as most of it was done via shaky cam (think Cloverfield, District 9, and Quarantine) but the invisible 3rd person camera was also used, giving us shots from both the cops view as well as the director’s view. This may sound confusing and crazy on paper folks but trust me when I say that it worked brilliantly.
End of Watch is written and directed by David Ayer, who has done many other crime/police films in the past (S.W.A.T., The Fast and The Furious, Training Day) so we probably shouldn’t be surprised that this came out well.
Brilliant but not satisfying…
While I found myself confused with the point of this film – outside of the awareness it brings with policing, gangs, and the fact that L.A. can be a dangerous place; I still found it to be masterfully made. I didn’t get much closure from the ending, and some of the scenes made me want to run to Google to see if certain things were real. But End of Watch seemed to be made to place realism over standard movie story-telling… and life doesn’t always end as neatly as a movie does.
End of Watch is a brave film in the sense that it uses a formula that we don’t get to see very often – especially this time of year when explosions run the theater. It is a realistic cop drama with a solid cast and brilliant director behind it. Check out this super-spicy film if you get a chance, I highly recommend seeing it sooner than later.