by Eric Paolini
David Ayer is back with an L.A. cop movie after writing Training Day eleven years ago. While End of Watch will always be linked to Training Day in my mind due to the similarities of setting. No dirty cops, and more slick than gritty, End of Watch is completely separate to Training Day.
The film follows Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) through their daily lives in the roughest parts of Los Angeles. Eventually, these officers get in a little over their head when dealing with a Mexican gang. End of Watch is more about the characters then what they are doing. I was attached to these guys as well as their lady friends. Taylor and Zavala aren't on a mission to take down this gang. They have a job and they do it. The film feels extraordinarily real.
Mostly shot in a found footage style, End of Watch experiments a lot with camera angles. At least to my untrained eyes. And for the most part, it was enjoyable. The found footage is used stylistically more than realistically. A half-hearted attempt at explaining a character's camera is given, it is just dumb. Why a gang member would have a camera at all times is never given. The found footage wasn't all bad. The opening car chase is seen only from the police car camera. Not only does it make you feel like you're driving, it is a fantastic way to start the movie. The only other scene that was helped by found footage was Anna Kendrick's confession scene. I can't imagine that scene any other way.
The main actors were all magnificent. Gylenhaal and Peña were phenomenal and completely believable as a partners. Personal favorite Anna Kendrick was incredible as usual. Unfortunately, the acting wasn't great across the board. The gang members were bad. I don't know if was the writing, the acting, or some combination of both, but whatever it was, it wasn't good. Over the top and ridiculous, I wish Ayer could have a second chance at the gang members.
After seeing End of Watch, I feel like I have spent time as an L.A. police officer.
4/5 stars. The found footage style drops the rating a bit.
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