End of Watch Review

It may surprise most people when I say that End of Watch is a film about relationships, mortality, and what it means to be a part of a family, in this case, a family of police officers. Words like heartfelt and moving are not often used when describing action movies, but End of Watch manages to be both an intense action film and a well humored buddy cop movie while incorporating a few weighty, emotional moments. This is a film with a lot to offer. It would be damned impressive if you walked away from this film liking nothing about it.

The premise is nothing we haven’t seen before. The story of two young up and comers in one of the most dangerous police divisions in the country, dealing with violent criminals in South Central LA. It’s the quality of the characters that sets End of Watch apart for your average cop thriller. Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a smart guy, working as a cop to help pay his way through graduate school while searching for a girlfriend who can actually match his intellect. Michael Peña’s character, Officer Mike Zavala, works well as both the wise cracking comic relief in this film, but also serves as a foil to Officer Taylor, as he is the dedicated husband and father that Taylor wants to one day become. Not only are both of these characters fully fleshed out, but they are people first, and cops second.

The success of this film as a whole is the result of two very strong and very honest performances from Peña and Gyllenhaal. The onscreen camaraderie of this duo is believable and highly entertaining, resulting in some quality comedic banter as well as more than a couple tender moments. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, as most of the other officers felt stiff and callous, and the actors who played Big Evil’s gang members were a definite weak point for this film. Even so, the performances of Peña and Gyllenhaal are strong enough to carry the movie, and the always fantastic Anna Kendrick does a respectable job as Gyllenhaal’s on screen love interest.

The first half of this film plays out a little bit like a well written version of the TV show Cops. There is no real central conflict. We simply follow the day to day actions of Taylor and Zavala as they take emergency calls and deal with the dark side of LA. The world-building in this movie is important to point out, as writer/director David Ayer paints the audience a picture of a community nearly devoid of any real morals and an often grisly and graphic string of egregious crimes police officers may have to deal with. Without spoiling the film, and be warned there is one big spoiler at the end that could ruin your enjoyment of the film; the third act is really where this film shines. It is action packed, shocking, and something that really sets this movie apart from any kind of traditional buddy cop film.

This movie isn’t perfect, the script has a few issues and it has real trouble deciding if it is a found footage film or not. Even with its flaws though, this movie has a big heart and made quite the impression on me as a viewer. For those who are still skeptical, just go see it, I doubt you will be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

12 thoughts on “End of Watch Review

  1. Nafees October 1, 2012 / 7:08 am

    wow so you loved the movie hun 🙂 am gonna watch, big fan of action thriller. That movie would be best for L.A based movie lovers.

    • Andrew King October 1, 2012 / 7:21 am

      It is a pretty quality film. Worth a watch.

      • Nafees October 1, 2012 / 7:35 am

        I’ll and thanks for letting know about the movie 🙂

  2. greatmartin October 1, 2012 / 2:33 pm

    See my review–we tend to agree–hope the public doesn’t overlook it as ‘just another cop movie’.

    • Andrew King October 1, 2012 / 4:17 pm

      It is a very touching film actually, I was shocked that it actually had depth to it, but the end really did it for me.

  3. ckckred October 1, 2012 / 6:57 pm

    I’ve got to see this one. I’ve heard fantastic things about it and now I want to see it more. Nice review.

    • Andrew King October 1, 2012 / 11:41 pm

      It really is a shockingly solid film, I thought it looked pretty bad from the previews.

  4. michaelanson October 1, 2012 / 9:10 pm

    I was torn whether to see this movie or wait for it on DVD. I’m a big fan of the James Bond, Mission Impossible, and Bourne films so I’m definitely drawn to the subject matter of cops, but there are so many great films coming out between now and Christmas, that I’m swamped with options. After your review, I think I may check out “End of Watch.” Have you seen, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower?” It’s my new favorite film of the season, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    • greatmartin October 1, 2012 / 10:45 pm

      Sorry but this is a sore point for me—a person who supposedly likes movies should go see it on a movie screen which it is made for–the only time you will see me watching movies on TV/cable is if it didn’t play long enough in theatres–I will buy DVDs if I know I will watch the film over and over AFTER seeing it in the theatre–for example I own “Monster”, “The Big Knife”, “Sordid Lives”, etc.
      And you definitely don’t see Bond, Mission Impossible and Bourne films on the small (yes 60″ is small) screens–they cry out for the BIG MOVIE SCREEN!!!
      Okay–end of rant! :O)
      PS Wallflower is opening here Friday–I will definitely see it—sadly my favorite films of this year are ‘foreign’ films like “The Women On The 6th Floor” “Marigold Hotel” “Intouchables”

      • Hamish Downie October 2, 2012 / 1:26 pm

        The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is incredible! I was laughing and crying despite being in a very public place (on a flight to the USA).

    • Andrew King October 1, 2012 / 11:47 pm

      No I plan to soon, I did see Looper this week and really really enjoyed it, also worth a watch to be sure.

  5. Mark Hobin October 2, 2012 / 3:07 pm

    I completely agree. Peña and Gyllenhaal have a chemistry that makes them utterly believable as police officers and friends. This was so much better than I expected it to be.

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