Watch What Happens
"END OF WATCH" review
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 11:09
A pseudo documentary shot with shaky and intimate imagery revealing horrifying scenes, “END OF WATCH” is a buddy cop flick not for the faint of heart. While the film incorporates a great deal of comedy, the harsh and gritty reality immediately grounds the piece and gives it a basis in the real world often left behind in films “based on a true story.” This film, not directly based on any specific file, creates an intensely in-the-moment atmosphere that demands the audience ride along into a day in the life of a Los Angelese police officer - one who, honestly, finds more trouble than perhaps the average officer might.
“END OF WATCH” focuses on two partners, Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pina), who are part of the dedicated Los Angeles Police Department. The two, in responding to mostly routine calls, become unintentionally wrapped up with a larger gang war and human trafficking circuit. Much of the film takes place recording their very raw and personable interactions in the cruiser, while the rest pieces together the story of something much deeper and more horrifying.
Taylor is allegedly filming a documentary for his film elective night class, attaching cameras to the pockets of him and his partner and providing an excuse for the cinemagraphic choices made. While the shaky camera has been done frequently and can be hard to follow, every camera choice in this film seems carefully chosen to allow you the exact amount of awareness that you are entitled to; no more, no less. That is, the amount of awareness that the director feels that you have earned. Welcome aboard, rookie. Luckily, you need not know anything about police work before stepping into the film, which trains you as it progresses about the significance of various aspects. By the end, you may be a pro, but the last thing you will want to do may be to work as an officer of the law.
Without a specially deliberate and crafted soundtrack or the perfected lighting and set decoration, “END OF WATCH” still manages to project all the right emotions at the right times. The film, which can admittedly feel a little long and weary at times, picks up right in the action and never ceases. The main characters are flawed, real men with relationships, concerns, and egos. They joke about everything and nothing, providing much of the heart and humor of the film, without stooping to cheap tricks of gore or gratuitous profanities.
Gyllenhaal’s performance in this film, somewhat reminiscent of “JARHEAD,” reflects the actor’s ability to slum it as an everyday yes-man. Pina, on the other hand, provides the vast majority of comedic relief while still portraying a strong and respectable character. The man is dedicated to his wife, yet spends a great deal of time trying to advise Taylor in his situation with love interest Janet (nailed in humility by the ever-charming Anna Kendrick). Natalie Martinez (“DEATH RACE”), America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), and David Harbour (“QUANTUM OF SOLACE,” “THE GREEN HORNET”) also star as fellow officers who each, in turn, take a serious beating of both the verbal and physical varieties.
This piece strips away the over-glamorous taint of celluloid and replaces it with a sincerity and genuineness that sticks with you even once it’s over. As mentioned above, this film may not be good for those who cry at the sight of child abuse. To those who feel they can handle the tougher side of the law, “END OF WATCH” provides a ride along experience as authentic as the real thing - without the risk of being shot. Sit down, settle in, and prepare for the ups and downs of a trying and dramatic day.