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End of Watch
End of Watch
23 Nov 2012
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Police officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal, SOURCE CODE) and Zavala (Michael Peña, CRASH) are partners and best friends. A night-school student in film production, Taylor affixes tiny cameras to his and Zavala’s uniforms to record their daily routines, collecting material for a short video about the real lives of the LAPD. Life is good — until a seemingly routine vehicle check finds the pair stepping on the toes of powerful drug traffickers.
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Movies.ie Critic Review
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
END OF WATCH (USA/16/109mins)
Directed by David Ayer.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, American Ferrera, Cle Sloan, Maurice Compte, Yahira ‘Flakiss’ Garcia.
THE PLOT: LA, South Central, and LAPD partners Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Pena) are plainly good at their job. To the extent that, when Zavala is challenged to go a few rounds with gang member Mr. Tre (Sloan) in the latter’s living room, the last-man-standing bout is strictly off the books. Respect!
But there’s trouble out on the streets, and it’s obvious that at least one hard rain is about to fall.
As part of an escalating turf war, one of Tre’s crew is gunned down by the Mexican Curbside gang, led by Big Evil (Compte) and La La (Garcia), whilst the random unearthing of some human trafficking quickly puts a price on Taylor – who’s keeping a video diary of his daily life on the beat - and Zavala’s heads…
THE VERDICT: It may be a buddy-buddy cop movie on the surface, but End Of Watch is more interested in the gritty truth than any loose cars, fast women and high-fivin’ shoot-outs. This is LA’s thin blue line through blood-tinted glasses, and the comparison to HBO’s The Wire are there pretty much from the start. And despite the buddy-buddy element, and another fine performance from Pena, this is really Gyllenhaal’s movie.
Having recently stated that witnessing a death during the early stages of research with the LAPD changed his life, young Jake has also now vowed to make only challenging movies from hereon in. Take that, Bruckheimer!
So, writer/director David Ayer (the South Central native who has so far concentrated largely on bad cops, writing the likes of Training Day and Harsh Times) has plainly gotten to his leading man here. And it’s easy to see why - even if End Of Watch isn’t quite Gyllenhaal’s Drive. Ayers is far too happy employing stereotypes here, and the odd 40-foot signpost for his subtle, underlying social commentary.
It doesn’t help that we’ve been here before, many times, from Colors to Training Day, from L.A. Confidential to Boyz n The Hood, not to mention last year’s Chinatown-esque Rampart. Still, End Of Watch works on its own terms, and if the mock-doc element makes about as much real sense as TV’s Modern Family, this is still a movie that leaves an aftertaste.
Review by P Byrne
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