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Review: End of Watch

Sep. 19, 2012by: JimmyO

PLOT: Two Los Angeles police officers find themselves facing day to day horrors while on patrol in South Central, Los Angeles. Things get especially dangerous for the two when a Mexican drug cartel marks the officers for death.

REVIEW: In the opening of the new cop drama from David Ayer (screenwriter of TRAINING DAY and S.W.A.T.) we as the audience witness a police chase via the police cars camera. This sequence feels very real and more than a little intense. It is also very telling of the strangely structured narrative which borrows a little from the found footage format currently trending in modern cinema. The third film directed by Ayer (previously he helmed STREET KINGS and HARSH TIMES) puts a slightly unique focus on the boys in blue they are far more sympathetic here than the typical cop flick. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Brian Taylor, a young police officer who is also taking a filmmaking class on the side. Taylor is constantly getting in trouble for shooting video on his watch questionably giving reason for the found footage format to be abandoned throughout. His partner Mike Zavala (Michael Pea) has a wife (Natalie Martinez) and is expecting a new addition to their happy marriage. The film follows these two officers as they face a variety of criminals working the beat in South Central, Los Angeles California.

If youve seen the trailer for END OF WATCH, you are probably under the impression that it is about two cops marked for death because they know too much about a very insidious crime ring. Dont get me wrong, this happens and it is part of the plot, but this storyline really only surfaces near the end of the film. If you are going into this gritty cop drama and expecting some sort of action film about two police officers running from dangerous thugs may be sorely disappointed. It took awhile for WATCH to really ingratiate itself to me as I spent time waiting for the films villains to show up. When they finally do however, while they are pretty vicious, they do come off a bit over the top and cartoonish. In many ways the problem here is the saving grace. Had these baddies played a larger role, I dont think the film would be nearly as intense as it manages to be.

While watching this thriller, you could almost make a comparison to the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies, in that there are moments where you know everything is safe and Pea and Gyllenhaal are just messing around. Yet once these two get a call things get progressively dark and dangerous for the officers. Shortly after that however, you find yourself feeling safe again until the next crime is reported. In one instance, the officers are called to a panic-stricken womans home. Once they arrive, they find her screaming at them to find her children. This particular scene was just plain gut-wrenching for reasons I wont reveal. Later on when a fellow officer is attacked, the violence is shockingly brutal and will have several audience members cringing at the horror on-screen. For me, this was a case where the actual film was much better than what it could have been had it followed a more generic formula.

What really makes END OF WATCH work is the love shared between the films two leads. The camaraderie of these two officers is honest and infectious. With such an amazing chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pea, it is hard to not grow attached to their well-intentioned characters. Not only was it easy to see these two as partners, it seemed as though they were as close to brothers as they possibly could be. The dialogue between them is incredibly natural that you have to wonder if these two are this close in real life. Even the women - including Martinez and the new girl in Taylors life Janet (Anna Kendrick) create a real and involving circle of friends and lovers in the midst of this drama. Without the wonderful performances from Jake and Michael, END OF WATCH just wouldnt have worked nearly as well as it does.

Thanks to its docu-drama structure and terrific lead performances, END OF WATCH is a riveting motion picture. While it may take some time to get used to the episodic format, there are sequences here that are just nail-bitingly suspenseful. Sure the bad guys are a tad stereotypical and therefore less affecting, yet they are minimally utilized. It is the day to day horrors that these men witness in order to protect and to serve that make WATCH an effective pulse-pounding drama. The talented Frank Grillo, America Ferrera and David Harbour also star.

Source: JoBlo.com

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4:01AM on 10/02/2012

this was...

a very good movie, the director takes what would have been a cliche story and tells it so well that you get attached to the two protagonists. the one flaw with this flick, and it is a very big flaw, is the incredibly shaky cinematography, at some points you actually get dizzy.
a very good movie, the director takes what would have been a cliche story and tells it so well that you get attached to the two protagonists. the one flaw with this flick, and it is a very big flaw, is the incredibly shaky cinematography, at some points you actually get dizzy.
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6:23PM on 09/24/2012

DIdnt like it....

At all...It all felt like it's been done before. 2 cops riding around throughout 90% of the film, getting into shit until they get in too deep and things go bad. Didnt we see that in "Training Day"? or "Harsh Times"? Wait, the same guy did those movies too. Now I get it. Although there were parts that i DID like, I was mostly bored. It was just overall dull to watch for me. Your run-of the-mill stereotypes galore, boring action scenes, dizzying camerawork, just left me feeling like I wasted 30
At all...It all felt like it's been done before. 2 cops riding around throughout 90% of the film, getting into shit until they get in too deep and things go bad. Didnt we see that in "Training Day"? or "Harsh Times"? Wait, the same guy did those movies too. Now I get it. Although there were parts that i DID like, I was mostly bored. It was just overall dull to watch for me. Your run-of the-mill stereotypes galore, boring action scenes, dizzying camerawork, just left me feeling like I wasted 30 bucks. I do give credit where it is due though. The acting was spot on, Gyllenhall and Pena had chemistry, and it felt like they really were good friends on patrol, but they couldnt save the lame unoriginal script. Been down this road one too many times. *12 (out of 4 stars)
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+1
9:20AM on 09/19/2012
Just saw a sneak preview last night. It was a really good movie, IF you can get past the severe shaky cam. Honestly, for me anyway, POV films went out with the craptastic Cloverfield. A tiny bit more editing to tighten up the story as well, and it would have been perfect. The script works well, the acting is great, but the exceptionally shitty camerawork is what really kept this from being something I'd watch again.
Just saw a sneak preview last night. It was a really good movie, IF you can get past the severe shaky cam. Honestly, for me anyway, POV films went out with the craptastic Cloverfield. A tiny bit more editing to tighten up the story as well, and it would have been perfect. The script works well, the acting is great, but the exceptionally shitty camerawork is what really kept this from being something I'd watch again.
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8:42AM on 09/19/2012
I feel like I already saw the entire movie in the trailer.
I feel like I already saw the entire movie in the trailer.
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