If you’re going to make a cop movie you’ll probably be in no better hands than David Ayer who has made a name for himself for exposing how corrupt at times Los Angeles Police Department can be. One thing to not here Oscar winning Training Day he wrote the script, is directing contributions Harsh Times, Street Kings films that didn’t light up the box office or went down well with the critics. Now we have his latest effort End Of Watch where we find ourselves in the hands of LA’s finest L.A.P.D but do we have something that’s compelling, intriguing enough to please critics and fans alike or we simply got another film providing some nothing we haven’t seen before?
In their mission to abide by their oath to serve and protect, Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) have formed a powerful brotherhood to ensure they both go home at the End Of Watch. The only guarantee for these officers is that there are no guarantees when patrolling the streets of South Central, Los Angeles. Between the blue lights, blaring sirens and adrenaline pumping action thrives an honest and often humorous banter between partners who spend most of their days in a police car awaiting the next call. Day after day Taylor find themselves breaking up fights, stepping into gang turf wars and when the pair ends up stumbling on to drug cartel , and attempt to handle something that’s too big for their own shoes.
In film these days it’s very rare to something that’s highly original so sometimes the next best thing is to take a generic idea build around it to make it more exciting, intriguing but most of all entertaining. End Of Watch might not provide something we haven’t seen before but thanks to it’s 2 strong lead actors Gyllenhaal and Pena they do keep the viewer compelled, gripped to what’s going on.Most of all the pair make the film feel grounded in reality from the banter between the two which feels very naturalistic, funny, engaging at times, overall it feels like a bromance’ with a number of times the pair call each other ‘bro’, ‘dude’.The trust they have in each other is so strong so when they enter situations they know they can rely on each other and willing to take a bullet to protect each other, their friendship is deep.
End Of Watch is essentially all about Taylor and Zavala so when it comes to the other characters they barely get a look in. It’s understanding the other police officers are secondary to 2 main leads but David Harbour (Van Hauser), America Ferrara, Cody Horn all deliver just enough to show their contribution to the film was worthwhile. As for the non-police female cast they actually do feel under developed, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez as they seem only as a reminder to the viewer despite all the bromance shenanigans they are Taylor and Zavala’s love interest and our protagonists are 100% heterosexual. As for the gangs their portrayal is like a generic hell, it feels stereotypical, gang culture from a bad tv programme with an us versus them. Latinos hate blacks, blacks hate Latinos both hate the police but most of all both gangs don’t feel authentic.
Take away the nifty little cams on shirt breast pockets, you never truly understand why Taylor was filming himself on patrol, his superiors didn’t either did they like him doing it. I’ll admit I do like the odd found footage film or films shot in real time POV cam style which worked fine at the beginning before become really distracting, an annoying gimmick. Things start to get outrageously silly when the local Latino gang even had a cam (or mobile phone to be more precise)! The jumping in and out of the cam view was really distracting  , and at one point it feels like a live action version of a video game when Taylor and Zavala find themselves in a middle of a shootout. I will say the real positive of the POV cam view did intensify the surroundings as you didn’t know what dangers or horrors where lurking behind the door and during the film, we do see some horrific ones.
If you take out the annoying POV cam, the problematic character development (or lack off) End Of Watch is actually one of the better police films out there. It’s nice to see a film that shows LA’s finest not corrupt but showcase the dangers and horrors they face on the daily basis. Thanks to the strong performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena who deliver a strong on screen chemistry making this film worthy of watching. End of Watch is an enjoyable film despite its many flaws.
★★★| Paul Devine
Crime, Drama | USA, 2012 | 15 |23rd November 2012 (UK) | Studiocanal |Dir.David Ayer |Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Natalie Martinez