End of Watch 2012 full movie review

Written by  Sal Kapoor
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End of Watch 2012 Movie Review

End of Watch 2012 full movie review. The found footage trope transverses different genres since 9/11 when real life horror was captured on the public’s mobile phones and documented the worst attack on American soil. Since 9/11 and the Rodney King affair it has appeared in various guises, most aptly, in the horror genre. Despite the film within a film concept, it serves several functions; it highlights the age where technology mixes with narrative to remind us of film as a process rather than a classical display. It also adds a sense of realism, when used appropriately.

Now, in David Ayer’s End of Watch, it could be argued it is actually the weakest element in what is a by the numbers plot which sees two LAPD cops in the line of fire.

Bryan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Pena) are two cocksure boys in blue, who out of uniform, are as gangster as the gangsters they pursue. Leaning towards the character traits of Vic (The Shield) and Denzil Washington in Training Day, they are a rarity – clean cops who want to get married, have kids and get drunk at dances. They forgo bribes and a sideline of dealing in favor of serving and protecting. The premise is they see the department as an extended family and look out for each other till the End of Watch.

The film flows along in hyper-realist style. At times, we recoil from the kickback of the weaponry. This element is strongest part of what is a very average script. It is essentially, Colors, The Shield and Harsh Times without the depth of Ayer’s previous narratives we have come to admire him for.

If Ayer had steered the movie in a different direction, then perhaps a slightly more avant-garde project could have emerged. However, whether it was a studio decision or a narrative point, the film plays safe with characters we’ve seen all too often. Big Evil comes across as cardboard cut out which to promote the film in shopping malls. It sits on the fence – neither venturing full on as Sin Nombre nor experimental as Man bites Dog. This dichotomy is evident throughout with – you can almost feel the characters’ frustrations at times.

The SA gangbangers are loosely sketched. With Hispanic gang culture having been documented superbly in Blood In Blood Out and 187, in End of Watch, they come across as an afterthought to allow the somewhat predictable ending to unfold.

The male brotherly bonding patrolling scenes and hip Taratino-esque dialogue is what really sets it apart from a B movie. Narrating ethnic tensions and cultural differences with banter, the constant references to their wives and fear of losing control as men depicts characters who use their day jobs to muscle out and make up for the power their women have over them.

A superb villain is born in Diamonique, a female driver who really does have a death wish and is the only character who is able to challenge Big Evil’s tyranny. The cartel thread comes across as botched Traffic style coda, which is introduced too late into the movie. The video recordings are never explained and serve little function. The film would have been stronger without them. However, there are some vicious and grotesque scenes, which affect our heroes viscerally. The ritualistic slaying of drug workers, the people trafficking raids. Clearly, Mike and Bryan are affected but this is never really investigated.

The film redeems itself with some superb acting and performances – this is where world-class actors can lift a movie with a weak script.

Training Day, Street Kings and Harsh Times were gritty depictions of ethnic tensions and corruption set amongst a similar terrain and how an established body like the LAPD either works with the community or tries to repress it.

A recent French movie titled Polisse explores similar themes and character conflicts. It rises above End of Watch as an experiment in the crime genre.

Watching reality cops is nothing new End of Watch manages to parody its own grand intentions. Take away Jake and Michael’s on-screen chemistry and you have a mediocre film, average at best, but for fans of the Hispanic gang genre, it is essential viewing.

Sal Kapoor

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