Based on the trailers, I expected End of Watch to be a stereotypical action movie with a weak plot and
some buddy cop humor. Instead, the film proved to be a study in partners' friendship
and the hijinks found on the job"”with a dash of drug cartel. Much of the feature
had the theater laughing uproariously. The film is generally a decent mix of
humor and action, but the transitions were sometimes really abrupt, going from
intense action to a wedding to a ride-along humor scene.
End of Watch is
one of those films that is enjoyable if you can just sit back and enjoy the
ride and the camaraderie between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael PeÃ±a, who plays
Mike Zavala, but when you start picking at it, some of the pieces start to
unravel a bit. Gyllenhaal's character, Brian Taylor, is filming a project and
thus carries a camera around. Sometimes, the film used is clearly from Taylor's
camera, and at other times, the film is obviously from a secondary camera, but
the switch is made without explanation, other than to have Jake Gyllenhaal on
camera. There's even use of clip-on cameras on Taylor and Zavala's uniforms and
patrol car footage, which provides more real-time footage, but often creates
more stress for the viewer, a very interesting technique from director David
Ayer. I'm not a huge fan of handheld camerawork, but it definitely fits with
the grittier style of the film, particularly since it's based in south L.A.
The interplay between Taylor and Zavala seems extremely
genuine, and I get the feeling that the actors genuinely bonded during this
film. The addition of other cops and love interests doesn't detract from their
relationship; it only serves to add another dimension for the two to develop
their bond further: they prank fellow cops, bond over girlfriends/wives, etc.
The ending of the film actually surprised me. An action
movie surprised me. Seriously. David Ayer manages to move an audience from
great highs to great lows with considerable skill. He just needs to figure out
how to avoid gangster clichés, because some of those Mexican cartel members
were walking stereotypes. Despite some minor issues, End of Watch isn't your standard action movie, and you'd be remiss
to treat it as such.