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End Of Watch - Review
End of Watch is a crime drama film by writer, director David Ayer. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as Brian Taylor and Miguel Zavala, two Los Angeles Police Department officers working in South Central Los Angeles. The film's focus is on their day-to-day police work, dealing with gang members, and their personal relationships.
Had this another director at the reign End Of Watch could've had phenomenal potential, and while David Ayer still earns his merit for building on a subgenre of cop dramas (Cops, Southland, The Shield, The Wire etc.) and creating an engaging character piece who are both honest and engaging, on and off the job, it still feels that the film lacks an overall drive and importance.
The naturalistic actors embody their characters perfectly. This allowed them to showcase more personality as proxy, thus creating complex and interesting characters as a result, this is the film's best quality.
The blend of genres builds a naturalistic tone that brings characters to life, maintains pace and creates an extraordinary contrast between the dark & serious scenes and the more lighthearted comedy/workaday scenes. While jarring, it prevented the story from becoming repetitive and predictable. The genre/tonal blend also allows for more interesting character building and relationship dynamics, and exploring the relationship between Brian and Mike helps the film's tension build in the more dramatic and final moments.
The visual style is in obvious homage to the cop shows it's building from such as The Shield and Cops, but the strange mixture between our viewing of the 'in world' camera and the documentary style footage had me occassionally confused, as it's hard to determine where we're positioned when the visual style remains the same but then changes in filming style which had me questioning the film's continuity and technique.
As great as our protagonists are, the villians are severely lacking and quickly become the most wasted opportunity of the film because what could have been some truly terrifying and fleshed out villains, in reality turned out to be just bloodthristy drug lords that offer no real opposition to our two heroes. These underdeveloped characters and unimpressive performances create the films biggest hinderance and most forgettable aspects.
We get a great emotional thriller from Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena (who are hilarious together, but Pena steals these scenes by delivering some absolutely sidesplitting dialogue, which leaves Gyllenhaal to shine in the film's darkest moments) and when the credits roll I felt genuine loss, amongst excitement, fear and deliverance.