Review: 'End Of Watch' Patrols With A Wicked Sense Of Reality
September 18th, 2012 2:00pm EDT
“Bad boys, bad boys… whatchu gonna do… Whatcha gonna do when they come for you…”
Remember that song? Remember that show? Yeah, that’s what I sang to myself once I left the screening as this piece entailed, what I thought, was a run on one of the best, uncensored episodes of the show COPS. The difference here is there’s a lot more when it comes to raw, unapologetic showmanship!
END OF WATCH isn’t your typical cop film! Although working off a template we’re all familiar with, this twisted, action-based, violent, drama patrols the streets on the edge of wicked mockumentary and narrative insanity. From the handheld HD cameras of police officers, gang members, surveillance cameras, and citizens caught in the act of everyday-urban-atrocities courtesy of South Central, LA/ This gritty tale of humanity’s best and worst takes you on an intense cinematic, first-person and/or dashboard experience.
Coming off a bit formulaic, its plot is simple to follow and viscerally intriguing. Opening with interesting narration by Officer Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) about what it is and means to be a cop; we’re lured into a law-enforcement “project” worked on by Officer Taylor which displays a gripping story that embarks on him and his partner, Officer Zavala (Michael Peña).
Both police officers run a gauntlet balancing their lives, loved ones and their odd thrill for venturing out into the mean streets most of us avoid. Sharing conversations which humanizes them, it all stops abruptly once that radio goes off. Striping away any sense of remorse for their fellow man, whether called out by gangsters, dealing with crack-heads, or backing up one of their brothers or sisters, END OF WATCH is one of the craziest cop-based films I’ve seen to date. Many others have poked at my psyche (TRAINING DAY (also written by David Ayer), BROOKLYN’S FINEST), but there’s a line this particular film crosses that doesn’t give off what’s normally expected.
For starters, the way this film is presented oozes a style that’s extremely guerrilla; but watching Hollywood faces like Gyllenhaal and Peña running around sort of distorts that grungy-like style of filmmaking; however, it doesn’t ruin the film’s core of how it grabs reality by the neck, exposing the dirt between those who wear a badge, and those who don’t.
Layered within that format comes jargon (which I’m sure some had to be improvised) that’s so open and honest, one starts to relate to them in common ways. Whether sharing buddy-buddy stories we’ve all shared about loved ones, or harshly busting chops, all through exchanging words between partners during a raid or a chase. Gyllenhaal and Peña had one of the best on-screen chemistries I’ve seen in a long time – that said, no question the acting was pretty damn good as well – with Peña stealing the last thirty or so minutes of its final scenes.
There are some similarities within their characters that link them to others they’ve played in past films. It’s almost like a continuation of “where are they now,” as there’s mention of what these characters did at one time (which I will not give away), and fits perfectly based on their stories, and how they led to where they are now – cops patrolling the streets of LA. (If you watched all their films, you’ll get what I’m talking about).
On a side note: The film has an enormous amount of violence - I warn in advance if violence offends you, keep in mind that language isn’t pleasant either. Holding a record for what I believe has to be the only film with an endless usage of the dreaded ‘F’ word, at some point or another; I think it would need to be presented with some kind of crazy award.
Much to the ‘F’ word’s credit comes from those who run on the other side of the badge. The gangsters in this film (linked to the Mexican cartel) also do a FANTASIC job holding down their respective roles. They’re as dark and menacing as you would imagine, therefore, taking a backseat to no one, and sealing the deal by making sure they’re as verbally intimidating, as they are visually. I guess pretty much like most would imagine (seeing as they can’t articulate the English language) why not make it up by utilizing the ‘F’ word as nouns, adjectives, etc.
The film also stars America Ferrara (whose character has a sketchy past), Anna Kendrick (the goody-goody girly girl with an unusual degree), Frank Grillo (the “Sarge”) and Natalie Martinez (a caring wife). As supporters, their roles are pretty vital in how it’s broken down based upon the impact they have towards Gyllenhaal’s and Peña’s characters.
It is said most cops go through their entire law-enforcement careers never firing their guns, and doing crappy jobs like rescuing cats from a tree or breaking up bar fights (which can get a little crazy). However, with the grip on reality END OF WATCH has, let us not forget. Even though there are cops out there who don’t do a goddamn thing, or corrupt themselves; there are cops who risk their lives fighting the good fight. All for a simple check, which at the end of the day isn’t even worth it, considering odds and ends based on extreme dangers. It’s all within the individual and if that’s what they want or enjoy doing, than that’s that – much respect and appreciation to them.
Clearly one of my top ten this year serving contrary to COMPLIANCE (also a top ten film) – exposing a different take on law – END OF WATCH delivers a lot in terms of emotional substance. There are pleasant moments in the film which will generate a laugh or two, but it doesn’t take away its grittiness. So prepare, because it’s raw, violent, harsh, dark and intriguingly menacing!
Grade: A / Genre: Drama, Violence, Gangster / Rated: R / Run Time: 1 Hr. 48 Min.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, Natalie Martinez
Directed by: David Ayer
Photo Credits: Sole Productions, LLC