Tuesday, October 9, 2012

End of Watch

Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal as two brave LAPD officer's in David Ayer's End of Watch
*** out of ****

David Ayer's film, End of Watch, is a well-paced, mostly realistic looking drama about the daily life of two ambitious young police officers who patrol L.A.'s worst neighborhoods and face deadly situations on a regular basis.

The relationship of the two men and their undying brotherly devotion to one another is illustrated with superficial one liners but balanced with convincing chemistry and good (often improvisational) acting by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.

The movie launches with the look of a found-footage shooting style resembling Blair Witch, Cloverfield, and Chronicle but loses that objective in the same way that District 9 did. Ayer needlessly introduces us to almost as many video-cameras as he introduces us to characters. We're being set up for the idea that everything we see is strictly from the point of view of these cameras... and early into the movie, that rule is broken. The whole movie manages to be quite compelling with handheld HD cinematography, but is inconsistent with the notion that we are seeing what the characters are recording. It doesn't figure into the nature of the movie or even the story. Ayer's choices here seem more trendy than necessary.

I really likes how this movie gave me a safe window into the lives of these characters. Ayer continues his tradition of humanizing people who have to keep up appearances in the cop and criminal world. Everything seems to be based on an intense study on the professions he portrays. There are characters in the background of this film who, I can confidently say without doing my research, are real law-enforcers and others who are probably former hard-core criminals.

Listen to an interview with Gyllenhaal about the making of the film.

A thriller plot eventually finds its way into the film while the two officers realize they are in over their heads after successfully busting critical elements of a major drug cartel. There's a price on their heads and many gangs in the city who would like to get the credit for taking them down.

The biggest weakness of the film, is a group of criminal gang members who are annoying in their transparently improvised exchanges throughout the feature. This left me wondering if mentally deficient gang-bangers really talk that way, and if they do, why bother concentrating on it with this movie?

End of Watch does a good job of staying objective to its subject matter. The opening monologue says it best where you hear Gyllenhaal talks about his devotion to enforce the law, even it he believes it to be flawed. 

Extra reviews: 
Ebert Loved it.  
Rabin thought it was okay.

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