“End of Watch” is a nice change of pace from the cliched “self-shooter” film by using the right amount of intensity and downtime.
Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael PeÃ±a) are cops who work together to clean up the streets of South Central Los Angeles. After being reassigned to a new division, the two stumble into the middle of the Mexican drug cartel. Gunfire and body counts increase, and it’s all documented through video cameras on the police car and the camera Taylor carries around for a project. The cop twosome begins busting members of the cartel left and right until they find themselves in the middle of it all.
The film uses footage from the handheld camera a majority of the time, but views from the eyes of Gyllenhaal and PeÃ±a are thrown in to offer a break from the dizzying view of a handheld camera. Using the handheld to capture most of the action offers some realism to the action and characters’ lives, but the film would have been just as real without the effect.
The plot is built with intense times of action and snippets of downtime with the two characters driving around drinking energy drinks. With the two rescuing children from burning buildings, narrowly avoiding bullets and turning up dead bodies, the relaxed moments are welcome to calm nerves.
Chemistry between Gyllenhaal and PeÃ±a makes the friendship between the two characters seem effortless and real. The two poke fun at each other and do not hesitate to cover each other in sticky situations. This chemistry makes the characters as much of a focal point as the shootouts.
There are some unanswered questions that linger throughout the film, such as why Gyllenhaal’s character is allowed to carry a camera around and document while on duty in the first place. The reason behind Gyllenhaal having the camera to begin with is for a project, but this project is never mentioned again.
“End of Watch” presents a unique take on the clichÃ© cop movie with a powerful plot and equally powerful characters.
“End of Watch” is rated R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references and some drug use.