End Of Watch

End of Watch (I hate that there is no ‘the’ there) is another of those movies that I felt bombarded by trailers for. Unfortunately they only made a single trailer for this movie, so I saw the same two minutes over and over again. But from that trailer, I was definitely curious about this movie. Filming style was different, might have been a buddy cop movie, but at the time with very serious overtones. I do love genre bending movies!

Oh man, look how happy they are! If only they knew…

Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are partners working the hard streets of South Central LA. They are great at their job, if not a bit reckless. Brian is slowly taking classes, working on a Pre-law degree, with high aspirations. Mike is happily married (Natalie Martinez) with a child on the way.  The beginning of the film opens with a chase scene and subsequent shootout, causing the two to be suspended for a month while they make sure it was a legitimate shooting.

But no worries! They make sure they follow the book, mostly. Brian is also taking an ‘art’ class, where he has to make a movie so he decides to document his life. Why not? Cops are exciting! So he has his normal hand held camera, and some ‘spy cameras’ on their shirts, along with other footage from police scanners to make up the majority of the film.

They are like most stereotypical cop units, there is a hardass equal who always gives them crap (David Harbour), a lieutenant who only cares about results (Frank Grillo), and some other friendly cops who actually appreciate what they do (America Ferrera, Cody Horn). Heck, even Brian has started to see someone, a smart girl who is more than just a booty call (Anna Kendrick).

But when the two start an investigation on a Hispanic gang shooting, they soon find themselves deeper and deeper in the dealings with the drug cartel, who have expanded their operations out of Mexico.  Discovering mass murders, cocaine, golden guns, cash, and human trafficking have put them as the number 1 priority for the cartel to deal with. What they just assumed was a normal shift will turn into a fight for survival to just make it to the end of (the) watch.

Yes, the same Cody Horn who helped ruin Magic Mike is a cop in this. Same disgruntled face.

I know my description of the plot made it seem like a pretty serious action movie, but surprisingly I would instead describe it as a “Comedy Drama Action Thriller” film. It is seriously all of the above. I laughed, quite often, I cried once, there was the obvious action, and I felt scared more than once.

The film isn’t a typical ‘found footage’ film. I believe the director originally wanted the whole thing to be in police camera / hidden camera footage, but there is plenty of actual camera work thrown in as well. So that means we have a movie that fits multiple genres, and doesn’t even keep its camera use constant, but yet it works really really well.

Frankly I thought the movie would be stupid, but I ended up loving every minute of it. Gyllenhaal and Peña had excellent chemistry together, and it shows that they spent months shadowing LA cops and hanging out for inspiration.  My only suggestion for watching this movie is to be prepared to have scenes change suddenly. It may go from hilarious banter to scary cop moments in an instant. This form of ‘genre shock’ is pretty rare, and now something I hope to see more often in movies after this. End of Watch is a definite must see.

4 out of 4.

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