End of Watch – Review (Courier #11)

28 Mar

David Ayer’s latest film End of Watch is a return to his favoured crime-drama genre. It is set in the mould of Training Day (2001); the film he wrote and helped produce and which gave Denzel Washington his second Oscar. After the plaudits Training Day received and deserved, End of Watch had a lot to live up to. Somehow it needed to recreate the thrills and grittiness whilst injecting something new into a much-treaded cinematic path. This time Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are the boys in blue manning the thin blue line in the rough and tumble world of South Central, Los Angeles.

The story follows Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) during their daily lives, patrolling in their comfortable police car around the rough neighbourhoods of suburban Los Angeles. A few routine house and vehicle stops involving large quantities of the three basic necessities: ‘drugs, money and guns’, leads them into the folds of cartel businesses operating in LA, having spread north from Mexico. Their lives become endangered as the cartels obviously take a disliking to anyone, cop or not, snooping in their illicit dealings and mark both of them for death. Their skills and camaraderie are seriously put to test.

First off, End of Watch is going to be compared to Training Day – a lot! The comparison has already been made in this review by yours truly. Unfortunately, this film is nowhere near as good as the 2001 classic but is nonetheless worth watching.The best aspect of the film is the wonderful relationship and bromance between Taylor and Zavala as they go about their daily lives in the LAPD. There is a fantastic and natural chemistry between them and the cop car banter is a real highlight of the film. It helps to balance out all the dirty and messy crime business they have to deal with once out of the car and back on the mean streets.

However, the entire film is merely a collection of cop clichés, including rescuing helpless kids from a burning house as the fire service are conveniently running late. The camerawork is another gripe as the film uses handheld cameras for the most part, utilising lapel and car dashboard cameras when Taylor is not physically filming himself for an oft-mentioned personal project. However, as the film progress the idea of using personal cameras seems to wear off and there is ultimately a mix between handheld and professional camerawork, which seems rather pointless and we never see Taylor’s final video project. The ending is good and rather emotional which helps make up for the first two acts of crime fighting. Even the villains are clichéd and have little or no back-story; they are there just to kill ‘pigs’ and move drugs.

VERDICT: Inevitably compared to Training Day but unfortunately lacking its slick quality and clout. Nevertheless, despite being a  cliché-littered LA crime-drama it has a strong ending and a funny, cop-buddy chemistry. It is good enough to make it respectable for duty.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: