Nov 30 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
End of Watch
I suppose it was only a matter of time before the found footage art of film-making most synonymous with horror and sci-fi movies found its way into other genres.
Cop thriller End of Watch uses the device to follow Jake Gyllenhaal (Brian) and Michael Pena’s (Mike) police officers around the streets of L.A.
Director David Ayer must’ve wanted to be a cop when he was younger as the writer of Training Day and S.W.A.T. follows previous directorial work Street Kings and Harsh Times with another gritty, on the streets, tale of the boys in blue.
The concept is his and his alone as he also wrote the story but Ayer’s use of a quasi documentary style as a new take on the cop buddy movie isn’t as fresh as he probably hoped it’d be.
Images taken from inside police cars evoke memories of TV shows like Cops and Road Wars and cameras placed on Brian and Mike’s uniforms give a Rogue Traders / Cook Report feel to their door step calls.
Ayer repeatedly shoots close-ups and uses shaky cam which adds to the increasingly frenzied day-to-day existence our two leads experience on the job.
And Gyllenhaal and Pena do a fine job as the initially cocky cowboy cops and “ghetto gunfighters” who later become more serious and concerned for their very lives.
With shaved head and coiled ferocity, Gyllenhaal opens the film with a passionate monologue (“I am a fate with a badge and a gun”) but doesn’t become the hot head you initially expect, adding moments of gentleness and clarity.
Pena is more of a punch first, ask questions later type of guy as he and Gyllenhaal’s ‘cop-mance’ sees them spend most of the movie driving around, Training Day-style, talking about women, religion and popping off racial jokes at one another.
They make for a charismatic pair but they’re no Riggs and Murtaugh (Lethal Weapon) or Somerset and Mills (Seven) in the cop buddy likeability stakes.
Ayers tries to rectify this by giving us a glimpse into their home lives but the cliches flow thick and fast, despite a fine turn by Anna Kendrick as Brian’s girlfriend Janet.
As soon as a pregnancy is announced you know trouble can’t be too far away.
The film’s narrative rather stumbles along and becomes quite repetitive (house calls, busts, car conversations).
But things get more serious when Brian and Mike come under fire, literally, from a notorious cartel, who just happen to also be filming their capers.
The frenetic final shoot-out features first person shooter video game-like shots and acts as a bloody and bombastic climax in keeping with Ayer’s back catalogue.
And the director’s next movie? Yep, you guessed it, another cop thriller, Ten, starring old Arnie himself.