End of Watch follows two street cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as they patrol the gang infested neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The film uses the now familiar device of showing the action through the lens of a camera. At first this overused gimmick is distracting but as Brian and Mike go about their day, the camera settles down and the technique delivers a voyeuristic quality and a sense of urgency to the unfolding action.

The camaraderie between Brian and Mike is the heart of the film. The relationship between the two feels lived in and authentic from the start. You believe these two guys are cops and best friends. Peña and Gyllenhaal both give natural and organic performances. They both are at times funny, charming, vulnerable and tough. There’s an unpretentious, stripped down quality to the dialogue and story that makes it feel real and immediate.

Writer/Director David Ayer nails the sun drenched yet gritty and seedy urban side of Los Angeles. The cinematography captures the colors and atmosphere of LA to the point that you feel you are actually right there in the middle of it all. You will find a vibe similar to End of Watch on television in the underappreciated and excellent Southland currently in its fifth season on TNT.

As Mike and Brian ride around on patrol we get a snapshot of what cops deal with on a daily basis in high crime areas. We get to know them through their interactions with their fellow officers, significant others, the people they help and the criminals they pursue. Through the eyes of these two cops we get an intimate look at the meaning of friendship, family, and loyalty that is worth watching.

 

 

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