Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) are cops working the streets of Los Angeles, dealing with the minority communities, gangs, drugs, and random anti-social behavior. Brian & Mike are not just work partners, they are best friends. Fuelled by an out of work study, Brian equips himself and Mike with mini cameras, dashboard camera, and a hand held camcorder, so people can see what it’s really like to work as a cop on the roughest streets in LA. When the two super-cops, make some high profile arrests, and dent some serious drug and crime rackets, they come to the attention of some unscrupulous individuals. Brian gets more on film than he ever expected.
End Of Watch starts out in fairly monotonous style, Brian introduces himself to the camera, and you end up in found footage territory, and so begins the wobbly camerawork we are all too familiar with. While the found footage genre needs some shaking up, and movies such as Chronicle and Project X have shown that the style can adapt to other headline genres, you do feel that this is not the place for the concept. Suddenly, and without warning, End Of Watch suddenly becomes very much the place for this sort of movie.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the defining point, it varies from viewer to viewer, but around thirty minutes into the movie something quite extraordinary happens. As the slow burning tale of, friendship, new relationships, childbirth and work all unfold, so does something far darker. A form of underlying terror slowly starts to show its hand. This terror is by far the most menacing of any you’ll encounter in this sort of movie. Before you know it you’re in a strange Cops meets Blair Witch hybrid, a place you neither expected to be, or can get away from.
Part of End Of Watch’s power is in the relationship between the two friends, even up to the shocking finale they are sharing advice, and jokes, and it’s all incredibly natural. You truly believe that Brian and Mike are friends; as a result you really have no aspect of the actors performances to criticise.
Written and directed by David Ayer, whom previously bought us Training Day, Harsh Times, Street Kings and SWAT, you’ll now have a very good idea of the place this acclaimed genius is taking you.
The movie has some nice supporting roles Anna Kendrick plays Janet whom Brian meets and falls in love with over the movies one year setting. While rather surprisingly Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera does a turn as a hard-nosed cop that will take no crap.
End Of Watch is an outstanding movie, it starts as one thing and takes you in a much different direction, it’s compelling, shocking, terrifying and a movie that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.