Raven McCoy Finds END OF WATCH To Be A Gripping Cop Drama!!
We’ve all seen cop films where a mismatched set of partners who argue and make fun of each other but come together to solve a case, typically involving corruption or drugs. Maybe both. And thanks to the success of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series we’ve all been subjected to tons of found footage films. Despite both of these genres being so popular it’s surprising that no one thought to combine the two together until now with writer-director David Ayer’s END OF WATCH. But rather than make a formulaic cop film that is then burdened by the found footage style, Ayer creates a gritty, emotional and thrilling cop drama.
Ayer is no stranger to cop dramas, having written a number of screenplays that have dealt with the LAPD including TRAINING DAY and STREET KINGS, but rather than portraying the corruption of the LAPD as he has in the past, he tells the story of two honest cops on the force. Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his partner Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are the best of friends and together they patrol South Central Los Angeles. Using a handheld recorder as well as a tiny camera that he’s attached to his lapel and Mike’s, Taylor records his experiences as a cop and what it means to be one for a film class he’s taking. Through these cameras and additional footage provided from the car’s camera and other handheld devices, we experience a few months in their lives, both personally and professionally, as they slowly become targeted by a major drug cartel.
The introduction and rational for all the handheld footage is weak at best and the class project aspect gets lost along the way but the use of this POV footage gives the film an intimate feel. Not only do we see firsthand what it’s like to go on calls that range from the mundane to the insane but there are also a lot of personal moments and conversations between Taylor and Zavala, stripping them of their cop exterior and allowing us to see the good-natured guys they are underneath. Getting to know the officers on a personal level ups that initial fear you get when watching them go on these frightening calls. And these calls they go on get violent and bloody real quick. In the film’s opening chase scene there’s bullets flying and blood spilled and it only gets worse as the film goes on. Seeing from their perspective what it’s like to crawl through a burning house and just how brutal violence against cops can be, is terrifying and some of the calls they go on provide some incredibly startling on-the-job imagery that I haven’t seen before in a crime film.
Although the found footage, handheld style gives the film realism and intensity it also distracts from the viewing experience. At times the imagery is very shaky and the editing is so quick that it’s difficult to make sense of what’s going on.
For a drama it takes a lot longer than usually for the Taylor and Zavala to build up to the final showdown with the villains, a group of gangsters acting on behalf of a Mexican cartel, but it works better this way because it allows us to really get to know Taylor and Zavala. And really it’s all about Gyllenhaal and Peña. They are a tremendously likeable pair who hold the movie together and really sell the story. Everything about their interactions and dialogue felt realistic and there was a real feeling of love and fraternity between the two. Their home lives with their wives and girlfriends are also included and rather than feeling like a silent observer of their personal lives, the handheld footage made it feel like I was participating in their lives and made the thought of anything bad happening to these guys heartbreaking. Frank Grillo as their captain and America Ferrara and Cody Horn as some no-nonsense cold female cops also have good supporting roles and Horn’s naturally icy demeanor gets used properly.
With its intimate shooting style, Gyllenhall and Peña’s strong chemistry and the intense violence, END OF WATCH proves to be a gripping and brutal cop drama that breaks away from the pack and serves as a reminder that police officers sacrifice their lives and the lives of their families every day in an effort to protect others.
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Sept. 21, 2012, 6:48 p.m. CST
by Steve Giunta
Sept. 21, 2012, 6:49 p.m. CST
by Steve Giunta
Sept. 21, 2012, 6:51 p.m. CST
Sept. 21, 2012, 7:25 p.m. CST
by Raptor Jesus
The movie? You lost me at shakey-cam. Maybe I'll watch at home so I can take breaks.
Sept. 21, 2012, 8:28 p.m. CST
Two ludicrous, idiotic movies. One of them was simply bad, the other ridiculously overrated. Can you guess which one is which?
Sept. 21, 2012, 10:10 p.m. CST
But then, in Hollywood all the beautiful people are doctors, lawyers and cops anyway it seems.
Sept. 21, 2012, 11:54 p.m. CST
Great to hear from you, I really missed you! Well done on the review, I can't wait to see this. Let me know when we can get together.
Sept. 22, 2012, 2:31 a.m. CST
the handheld footage made it feel like I was participating in their lives
Sept. 22, 2012, 2:31 a.m. CST
Oh forget it.
Sept. 22, 2012, 4:40 a.m. CST
For my friends at Aicn, My girlfriend found this. It is the History of EC Comics. Highly recomennded, haven't watched all of it yet. Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvsTjMjmAi0
Sept. 22, 2012, 4:57 a.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2012, 5:01 a.m. CST
Saw it with a sold out crowd here in Austin tonight and the theater went apeshit crazy for END OF WATCH. The handheld camera action serves its purpose well here and actually helps engage the audience better than any handheld camera movie ever before. Gyllenhaal and Pena put on one of the best Maverick and Goose partnerships we've seen on film in a long time. Those two are what sets this apart from Ayer's other films, and make it one of the year's best.
Sept. 22, 2012, 5:05 a.m. CST
Do we get to see the bit where his fellow students tell him that he's a really shitty cameraman?
Sept. 22, 2012, 5:19 a.m. CST
I was hesitant about this film, no longer. Good Review. Please check out the link above. Time to get in the Halloween spirit.
Sept. 22, 2012, 9:23 a.m. CST
I don't think the film would have lost an ounce of impact had it been shot like a traditional movie with a few alternate camera angles/types thrown in. The cinematography in Michael Mann's Heat or Collateral would have worked perfectly for this film.
Sept. 22, 2012, 10:21 a.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2012, 1:14 p.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST
Sept. 22, 2012, 3:21 p.m. CST
It was glaringly obvious the Latino guy was going to do a "sacrificial minority" routine. Jesus, I'm sick of that shit.
Sept. 22, 2012, 8:54 p.m. CST
This was a great film, visually wasted. Mann should've done this. This would have been his next great cop film.
Sept. 22, 2012, 9:08 p.m. CST
I was able to make it down to the pre-screening of End of Watch, and forgot how cute she was. I went to the first screening South Florida had from AICN- Project X, but don't remember seeing her there. Anyway, the movie was awesome and there was decent eye candy... If you didn't think so, please see user name above.
Sept. 22, 2012, 9:10 p.m. CST
But does he get extra creadit for getting shot??
Sept. 23, 2012, 12:39 a.m. CST
Shaky Cam and all. It eventually blends in with the action and its very fluid.
Sept. 23, 2012, 4:33 p.m. CST
The new Dredd has a great RottenTomatoes rating, especially for a comic book movie. But there's been almost no mention of it on this site. What's wrong, the producers of that film didn't pay you guys off enough?
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