Aneesh Chaganty

“End of Watch” | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2012 at 12:49 AM

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End of Watch

(2012, US, d. David Ayer)

A surprising heavy-weight, End of Watch is a film that combines hip forms of storytelling with genuine character and emotion. From the writer of Training Day comes a film about two LAPD partners (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) as they patrol the streets of South Central Los Angeles. 

I have to admit: I have a particular soft spot for films that explore LA. Not films that take place in Los Angeles, but films that use the city as a character and as an organic, highly volatile element in the storytelling. Having attended USC for the last four years and seeing the area firsthand, it’s a welcome change of pace to see an honest perspective on the geography.

From the marketing, you’d think this was another run-of-the-mill police movie. It’s not that. Though you do have to get over the initial conceit of the found-footage format (something I thought served this film particularly well and lent it a nice touch of authenticity), this is a film that treats real scenarios, real murders, real cops, real criminals, and real screwed-up situations with real honesty. It’s obvious Ayer put a ton of research into this film, and it’s even more obvious that its stars did, too.

Gylenhaal and Peña infuse this film with such life and chemistry that some of the best scenes in the film are mundane conversations between the two. But it’s the way these guys respond and react to violence and death that makes you step back and reconsider the film’s worth. End of Watch does occasionally fall into the pit of trying to appease a mass-audience – mostly through its PG-13 and sexual humor – but it’s the way these cops don’t react in the “Hollywood” scenarios of the story that really define this film and define their grounded, honest performances. It’s unfortunate to think that in such an incredible year for films (more about that later), these two will most likely be overlooked. 

But more than anything, End of Watch is a thrill. 

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