End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch (2012)

I remember End of Watch (2012) being plugged on a chat show at the time of its release. The clip I saw really didn’t sell the film to me which is a shame really. Catching the director David Ayer‘s next film Fury (2014) which had a far better impact. Even with just that connection I am preferring this film over the WWII bullet-fest which slammed Brad Pitt at the centre of the film.

That’s not to say End of Watch is perfect it does have it’s flaws. The documentary style which began with the prologue with Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) who states who he is, a police officer who is proud to do his job, a protector and enforcer of the law. Also stating he is just as fragile as those he comes into contact with. Equally as flawed as those he arrests with his partner Mike Zavala (Michael Peña). Talking over CCTV footage from their squad car as they chase and arrest a few more criminals. This was and is what makes this film so unique, when you hold it up to The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) with more traditional cinematography, which has a police officer you can see how much more real End of Watch which is hand-held. We can easily suspend disbelief to see clear that these actors are real people out in south Los Angeles. Helped in part by the number one cut that Gyllenhaal is wearing. He is no longer the pretty boy, he’s not a cop on his beat with his hispanic partner. Where the style can lose its way is when we cut from the hand-held to more traditional methods. We brought away from their intimate world of the on the bigger team they are a part of, which becomes more and more regular. Yes at times its necessary to see whats going on, not sure I’d want to wear a small camera at a wedding either.

At the heart of this we have a team that time and again are honoured for their bravery, but don’t really let it go to their heads. They are just two guys who are best friends, brothers who have seen their share of stuff on the streets who over the course of the film find themselves in some horrible houses, coming ever closer to a drugs cartel. It’s all messed up and they just keep coming across, guns, bodies and money. A patch with warfare between african Americans and Hispanics is being played out. The streets are far from safe, where we find a car full of gun-heavy men and women foaming at the mouth about this cops who are making life hard for them. 

Away from this we see the wider world of the LAPD, a squad of men and women who are great big family really. Having their highs and some gruesome lows which we are shown at times. A cops life is not an easy one. Something that Ayer doesn’t shy away from, violence is out there and we are shown it all. This is where we also pull back from a documentary style which grow used to. The conversations between the two men in the car really make this film. As real as those we find in reality shows, they are normal people just doing their job, which happens to be one where they put their life on the line, day after day.

End of Watch is competing with reality programs, thats the bottom line, we are seeing a bunch of practically unknown actors in a normal LA which we have seen glamourised by Hollywood. Looking back at Pines which is more about the knock on effect of our actions it’s not really fair to compare the two film. We see a police world as one that is vulnerable, a group of people who want to protect, they are no less human as the rest of us. What defines this is the relationship between the two men over the course of the film in a style we have grown used to on television. Cinema is still competing with the ever-increasing sophistication of TV which is producing work to a similar standard as the older medium of film. Here we have a blend of the two.

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4 responses

  1. Good review Tim. The chemistry between Pena and Gyllenhaal is what really allowed for this film to work its magic.

    December 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

    • Exactly, the rest is just trimmings on the side.

      December 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

  2. A timely subject with the current massive unrest in the US over perceived law enforcement abuses. I’ve had occasional experiences with the police (as we all have I guess) and you really don’t know what to expect or what you’re going to get. Sometimes they are human – other times – overboard. Play it accordingly. Surely a very difficult job with enormous stress. Bad things are bound to happen.
    I liked Jake – first noticed him in October Sky. Wondered if his career would sustain and he’s done well. Surprised when he went to TV while still successful in film. I have yet to see Nightcrawler – will shortly.

    December 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    • I know my experience have been far different, being the victim usually, I’m not really a big fan of Jake myself, he’s ok. I watched this more for the director if anything. Not seen either of those films, I’ve heard good things about Nightcrawler, seen as a bookend to Taxi Driver. I guess we’ll have to see for ourselves.

      December 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

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