End of Watch is a new installment in the buddy patrol cop genre, set in gangland Los Angeles focusing on Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena). The movie swiftly establishes the level of violence with a high speed pursuit ending in a shootout and the reputation of the films two stars as the gunslinging good guys, all before the opening credits roll to Public Enemy’s ‘Harder than you Think.’
Shot (loosely) in the now over familiar found footage/shaky camcorder/bodycam style Director David Ayer just manages to veer on the right side of nauseating. The dialogue isn’t particularly strong and much could have been left on the cutting room floor without the movie loosing what the characters need to convey. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena make a believable partnership and manage to inject moment of humour, which is mostly crude, predictable and flavoured with a little racism.
End of Watch rolls on with the partners of 3 years patroling their tough LA neighbourhood, delivering scenes which seem to justify the coarseness of the LAPD we know from news clips and other media as they execute warrants and answer 911 calls and enforce the rule of law as the thin blue line of safety between the cities civilians and street gangs, along the way earning the respect of one gang leader through fair play.
The time we spend peering at Brian and Mike through the windscreen of their patrol car is broken with scenes from their lives outside of uniform; the loving husband and the playboy who has tired of the uniform groupies and wants to settle down. These scenes form some of the more intriguing scenes in End of Watch, thanks to Pena and Gyllenhaal.
Not too much time of End of Watch is spent on this distraction as the two become the targets of the Mexican cartel after uncovering Cartel activities in their territory and the film builds towards its finale which will require most of your forgiving, as although it achieves solid tension its route is dotted with the implausible (shouldn’t gangsters with heavy firepower be able to hit a target that is not looking at them) to the final action scene which is gripping.
Gyllenhaal and Pena work well on screen and while their strength is not matched by the other members of the cast, End of Watch is engaging and works well.