Friday, November 16, 2012

Movie Review: End of Watch (2012) Dir. David Ayer

End of Watch by David Ayer
Rating 4 out 5 stars

Blurb: From the writer of Training Day, End of Watch is a riveting action thriller that puts audiences at the centre of the chase like never before. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as young LA police officers who discover a secret that makes them the target of the country's most dangerous drug cartel

End of Watch was chosen as the Blahblahblahgay 5th Best Movie of 2012.

Thoughts: Powerful and enjoyable movie making that is hamstrung by not following its own rules, with better direction this could have been a truly great film.
We ride along in the lives of Taylor and Zavala as they kick down doors, tell jokes, get deep and meaningful, make drug busts, face down criminals and interact with their family. It's a disjointed plot that really works, time passes at strange intervals but life for these two cops continues apace. There's a lot of great humour and some in your face violence, you might find the discovery of a gold-plated AK47 in the back of a 4WD to be a little unlikely but the movie zips past and doesn't allow you to reflect on some of it's more implausible moments.

The penultimate scene is what this movie is really all about, Ayer builds and builds to it's heart pounding climax in such a subtle way that you don't realise you're holding your breath until it's almost too late, and it pays off big time in what could be an unforgettable sequence comparable to the best of the genre. To go any further in to details leads to spoiler territory but for me it makes all of the issues with Ayer's direction an acceptable annoyance whilst at the same time highlighting the effect his lack of vision had on the film.

Ayer sets the film up with its handheld camera gimmick "I'm making an art project about us being cops" says Gyllenhaal, and then doesn't stick to it. Aside from the fact that this cop who's an amateur film maker has over $10k worth of video equipment and the gang bangers are running around with uzis and Sony HD cameras, he also cuts in shots that so obviously couldn't be taken from the handhelds already established as part of the world. Not just little 2-shots but aerial footage and some ghostlike third person in the room during a sex scene like a fake amateur porno.

That aside it's a decent movie with some superb performances from the two leads. Gyllenhaal and Pena at the top of their game with the mix of violence and comic moments, friendship and love, the job and home life; I've read calls for Oscar nominations for both of them but the major problem would be who's supporting whom? Both actors are just as important to each others performance as the characters are to each other as friends and partners. The two cannot be separated, perhaps a joint Oscar nomination?

The relationship between Gyllenhaal and Pena is wonderful and must have been worked on for a great deal of time in pre-production but the seemingly natural chemistry with Kendrick is the kind of thing film makers usually only dream of capturing. We are not treated to movie stars playing a young in love couple, the kind of performances you usually find in movies, you find yourself taken beyond the fact that it's Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick to a place where the simple beauty of discovering that you can't live without another person is the only aspect of the story you are experiencing at that particular moment. And a dance scene that would put Travolta and Thurman to shame.

An enjoyable ride for sure, with many laughs, some serious downers with a  truly powerful and tense ending that is ruined by the director adding on an additional scene.

Leave all feedback in the comments, you know I love it.


  1. The performances are the best part of the film. A joint Oscar nomination would be interesting, especially for such deserving performances. Kendrick was good in this, but I preferred her in Pitch Perfect.

  2. As a man you takes extra special attention of the Oscars, has a joint nomination ever happened? Pitch Perfect isn't out here and I have no idea what it is except for some posters of women standing around looking like Bridesmaids all over again.

    1. A joint Oscar nomination for acting hasn't happened. Just 2 or 3 nominations for one film in the same acting category. Unless you count one actor being nominated for multiple performances in the same category, which happened at the 3rd ceremony in 1930. Maurice Chevalier, Ronald Colman, and Greta Garbo were each nominated for two different performances in Best Actor/Actress.

      Haha. Yeah, the poster doesn't do it justice. Pitch Perfect is about a college freshman (Kendrick) who joins an a capella singing group. The world of a capella singing in the film features mashups of contemporary and classic pop music. It's one of my favorites of 2012, but I don't know if you'd like it or not. Basically, it's a blend of Glee (which I can't stand) and films like Bring It On, if that helps.

  3. End of Watch is one of the better cop films in years