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END OF WATCH (review)

Written and Directed by David Ayer
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick

Officer Zavala: Comfortable footwear. Police work is all about comfortable footwear.

David Ayer knows a thing or two about writing cop movies. Unfortunately, directing them is bit more of a struggle for him. With his latest police drama, END OF WATCH, he decides that, in order for him to keep the genre fresh, he must leave the crookedness that he wrote so well in TRAINING DAY behind him, and tell the story of two earnest Los Angeles police officers. The approach isn’t necessarily novel but it is at the very least valiant. It’s how he decides this story should be told that we should call the cops on him for.
Police officers, Taylor and Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena), are back at work after a month’s leave, while one of their on the job shootings was being investigated. They were naturally exonerated and being the eager, young lads that they are, they are almost giddy to be getting back to work. Taylor is capturing this momentous occasion, and all subsequent police dealings, with his digital camera, which he explains as necessary to fulfill his law school elective film component. Not only are we asked to buy into this flimsy justification for the camera’s presence, but then we are subjected to watch the actual footage he gets. Ayer then cuts back and forth between Taylor’s camera and his own omniscient point of view whenever he needs to, occasionally cutting in other video camera footage that has mysteriously been obtained by gang members who thought it was a smart idea to capture their drive-by’s for prosperity. It is jarring, to say the least, and at times, so nonsensical in terms of perspective, that it becomes very difficult to stay in the film.
end watch
END OF WATCH does have two things going for it and, for cop flick fans, they may even be enough to make the experience enjoyable. These two things are Gylenhaal and Pena. Together, these partners feel like genuine partners, the kind who will always have each others’ back, no matter what. They are forceful and violent when they need to be and relaxed and supportive when that’s what called for. Their believability elevates the overall believability of the film, which, between the perspective issues and the horribly amateurish acting from the supposedly frightening Mexican gang members, this film desperately needs. At least Ayer succeeds in bringing one great cinematic truth to light; Police officers in South Central Los Angeles have it rougher than any other … Wait. You knew that already? Never mind then. End of review.
3 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give End of Watch?



  1. I am getting super jealous that you are getting to see all of these movies early. Looking forward to this one.

  2. LOL. well, this is interesting. i still wanna see it, but i’m not pressed about it.

  3. It’s certainly worth seeing for some of the film’s finer elements, like the cast, for instance. I just found the perspective was really confused.

  4. You forgot the laughs between the two in between the seriousness of the job.

    This flick is worth watching

  5. Yes, there is definitely some fantastic chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pena. And some funny moments. I did like the film somewhat. I’m not sure my review reflects that. What bothered me about it really bothered me though.

  6. Nice review, I think I enjoyed it a little better than you appear to have done though! I agree with your point about the cinematography in that it does often seem out of place and highly unlikely, but it really adds to the pace and excitement for me. I also really enjoyed the bond between Taylor and Zavala, it was really well portrayed by Gyllenhaal and Pena.
    I’ve reviewed it over on my blog as well, if you fancy having a look!

  7. I don’t think the switching of pov messed anything up with the story. I think it helps. Also the reason Taylor is recording his job is NOTa flimsy reason. I took an experimental film class in college. MANY people who were not Art majors, so to me its 100% believable.

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