Verdict: 4 / 5
End of Watch proves to be a buddy-cop-flick like no other. Using the lost footage technique, the film offers the most realistic and terrifying look at life on the streets. Director David Ayer, who is no stranger to the cop thriller genre, has helmed the highly successful Training Day and Street Kings. In his best effort yet, End of Watch is filled with visceral thrills and genuine pathos, inspiring standout performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.
Gyllenhaal (Brian) and Peña (Mike) play two veteran men in blue, patrolling the dangerous streets of South Central L.A. Their love for the job is only fortified by their love for each other. The two often share laughs and banter (mostly improvised dialogue) between very dangerous call outs – all recorded by Brian as a film school project. Their discussions run deep, discussing life, marriage, love and their inspirations outside of their job. The two seem completely oblivious to the real dangers lurking just around the corner. But things start to heat up when they start stepping on the turf of a big shot drug lord.
Although the lost footage gimmick adds dramatic effect to a number of scenes, it still has the tendency to become annoying – especially when the camera isn’t operated by anyone within the room.
Gimmicks aside, End of Watch is filled with jump out of your seat excitement. Audiences will feel part of the action – seeing what our heroes see and experience the tension first hand. It’s a dark and gruesome world of drugs, sex, violence and racism.
If you can get past the 326 times the f-bomb gets used, you’ll be treated to the heart-breaking life of everyday police officers. End of Watch, Gyllenhaal, Pena and Ayer’s ode to crime fighters everywhere, deserves its place among the best movies of 2012.