It Came From Netflix - End of Watch Review
This marks my first entry in what I hope to be a long running series of film reviews of movies that are available to stream off of Netflix. I will start this series by reviewing the film written and directed by David Ayer titled, End of Watch. The quickest and easiest way to explain this film would be to say that it is a combination of three types of film. A buddy cop film, Training Day and found footage. The buddy cop element I added in due to the terrific chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. The film also has the same pulse and feel as Training Day thanks in large part to the writer-director David Ayer. Ayer has mostly worked in the business as a writer for films such as Training Day, SWAT and others of the ilk. The film also likens to a found footage movie thanks to the story being told through tiny cameras that Gyllenhaal's character has set up on his person and throughout his vehicle. It feels real and immerses the viewer quicker into this hectic realm of what it is like to be a Los Angeles Police Department officer.
The film opens with high speed chase where our two heroes, Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Pena) are the officers in pursuit of the criminals and it ends in a shootout in South Central Los Angeles. Taylor, a former marine, films their activities as police officers much to the dismay of his fellow officers. The two of them have a bit of a reputation among their department as hot shots, but they still get the job done, and well. They also gain the respect of some of the criminals on the street when Zavala is challenged by one to a fight, after some racial slurs are exchanged on both sides he gives in and fights the man under the condition that when he wins, they arrest him. The two fight and Zavala wins, but does not charge the man with assault. The man he fought was a part of a gang called the Bloods who had recently come into contact with another gang that is on the up-rise, called the Surenos, The Surenos are looking to take over the streets with their heavily modified firearms.
This puts Taylor and Zavala's gaze onto the Surenos and the closer they get the more dangerous it gets for them and everyone close to them. However, they live by a code of justice and fighting for one another as if they are brothers. They continue to push forward with the Surenos case even after coming into contact with ICE agents who have also been looking into the Surenos. The agents tell Taylor and Zavala to lay low as these people are not the kind that you want to mess with as they are linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. It scares them a bit, but again, not enough. The following night the respond to a call from their fellow officers and arrive on the scene to see one officer down with a severe injury to the eye and another officer beaten half to death, by a member of the Surenos. The following day the officers perform a welfare check on an elderly woman at the request of her daughter. After receiving no response at the door, they head inside only to discover drugs, dismembered corpses and a disturbing message from the cartel intended for them to see. The cartel have them in their sights now, and it is up to Taylor and Zavala to fight them off.
I had absolutely no expectations when I watched this film, but I was absolutely stunned by just how good it was. Normally, found footage style films tend to bother me as of late as I feel like it is a gimmick but it worked really well immersing me into the action and the hectic days of a LAPD officer. The other thing I would have to commend the film on is how connected I felt with both Taylor and Zavala. The two characters were portrayed perfectly by Gyllenhaal and Pena respectively which only helped the film really hit home. The two were very much like brothers and it showed how much the two characters cared about each other. The supporting characters were also surprisingly well developed and portrayed. The Sarge, played by Frank Grillo, had a great presence as the leader of the department who was also very well respected, granted that is a bit of a carbon cut out of a character. The two love interests for our two heroes were played by Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez, both of which did a good job in their roles but their main purpose was too show the softer side of the main characters. I must also say that this is only the second film David Ayer has directed, but he has been in the business for a while now. He really did a fantastic job both writing and directing this film and it was truly enjoyable.