Review: End of Watch

A slice of life from the perspective of two American police officers on patrol as they encounter increasing dangers, proves to be a hard edged reality tale but has some irksome direction.

Ex-Marine police officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gylhenhaal) dreams of having a family, while his squad partner Mike Zavala teases him with the easy life he has with his own. They are cocky, self-assured officers whose frequency of success has made them extremely efficient if a little unorthodox. But when a drug cartel moves in on their neighborhood unseen, they could find the ground opening beneath their feet.

End of Watch is from Training Day director David Ayer, and both films rely upon seeing our character talk and exchange banter within a squad car. Brian and Mike have great chemistry, and you quickly appreciate their friendship and police “brothers-in-arms” relationship. There are a lot of American police films out there, and most of them fall into cliche and pitfalls (see Brooklyn’s Finest for examples of all the cliches in one place!) but the honest and glamour-less nature of End of Watch makes it insightful rather than painful. It paints a picture of the human beings behind the guns and badges, and the dangers they are constantly in.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided on using a “found footage”, “recorded footage” shaky camera style… Sigh… It is quite alarming how I’m sick of this now. Brian, for little reason other than “I’m making a movie”, fits himself and Mike with cameras on their uniforms and carries around a camcorder. While this does make it a unique police film, it is either used too much or ineffectively. The number of times the film does shaky-cam when it isn’t from a character’s camera, or is from a direction that could be… but actually isn’t, since we see a subsequent shot showing no camera being held. It constantly bothered me as I was asking “Who’s holding the camera now?”
I had myself a quiet giggle as even the drug cartel guys were filming themselves all the time too. Really? Is everyone out and about with camcorders these days?

If the film hadn’t been in this format (and the fact that they were recording had little to no significance means it didn’t need to be) it would have been a solid police drama. One really worth recommending! The characters are involved, the action is intense when it happens (and it happens suddenly) and the ending is so un-Hollywood its great!

It was an okay watch, it did feel a little bit like “TV Cops” due to the stupid shaky camera. If you want to see something new from American police dramas, you could do worse


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