David Ayer's "End of Watch"

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David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Deviss on Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:30 pm

"I am fate with a badge and a gun."

  • Story: Five Stars
  • Acting: Five Stars
  • Directing: Four and a half Stars
  • Visuals: Four and a half Stars
  • Overall: Four and a half Stars

I can count on one hand the total number of "Cop" movies I've seen throughout my life. Those two movies were "S.W.A.T." and this. It's been a few months since I've sat down and watched "S.W.A.T." from beginning to end, but I know that while it was dark and or serious at times, it was nowhere near the levels that "End of Watch" went to. By the time this movie was over, I had laughed so hard my ribs hurt, shed a few tears, recoiled in visible disgust, and physically shook from overwhelming anger. This is, by far, one of the best Cop movies I've seen.

---

Bryan Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peņa) are two LAPD officers who work in South Central Los Angeles. A usual workday for them consists of car chases, fist-fighting with potential arrestees, and dealing with the odd gangland shooting. After following up on a susp*cion from Taylor, the two officers uncover a small cache of money, firearms, and other grisly sites that all tie back to a drug cartel. Appearances from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), confirm what Taylor and Zavala already suspect: something of grave importance is happening right in front of them. Little do they know just how far things will progress and to what lengths they will have to go to.

When I sat down earlier this afternoon, I had no idea I would be in for the type of experience I had with "End of Watch". I've seen the full-length trailer at least half a dozen times, and while brief glimpses from key scenes are in the trailer, it's not until after you've seen the movie in full context that you understand what those "brief glimpses" really entail. One thing I knew going in was that this film would be shown from the perspectives of a handful of different hand-held cameras, ā la "Cloverfield", "Paranormal Activity" and other such movies. It certainly had the potential to be as jarring or unrecognizable as a few of those other movies, but barring a couple of instances where I could hardly make out who was who, those issues were minimal.

There is so much that I enjoyed with this film. From the day-to-day interactions between Taylor and Zavala, and the other people in their division, to the grittier action sequences. But above all the aspects that I loved the most were the levels of plausibility and realism. One such moment was the movie's introduction. For nearly three to four minutes, all you could see was what happened from the point-of-view of a squad car's dashboard camera. That was how we were introduced to Bryan Taylor and Mike Zavala. In those brief few minutes, we were shown what the characters of both men would be throughout the course of the movie. Another scene was Taylor and Zavala's responding to a probationary officer's cries for help over the radio. Once the arrived on the scene, things were much different than what they, and I myself, expected them to be.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peņa were fantastic in their respective roles. From the quieter moments of down-time to the intense and "edge-of-your-seat" points, both men are completely engaging and believable. They give you the sense that you are right there beside them in their day-to-day, assisted greatly by the changing cameras. Before the end of the movie you get the sense that the two men are brothers. That they would do anything for the other. It's that fact that makes the climax of "End of Watch" all the more impactful and telling.

Anna Kendrick (Janet) and Natalie Martinez (Gabby) were both convincing and entertaining in their respective roles as Taylor and Zavala's wives. There are two scenes in particular, one that consists of just Taylor and Janet in the former's car, and the other with all four attending a wedding, where I literally laughed out loud at what was happening on-screen. They were also appropriate during the more touching moments.

There were a couple of surprises that actually did surprise me. One was a little too obviously telegraphed earlier in the movie, but both were nonetheless handled perfectly. Writer-director David Ayer, who wrote "End of Watch" in six days and also wrote "S.W.A.T.", did a fantastic job with this movie. If you haven't seen it by now, I seriously recommend that you do. Just be prepared for an abundance of swearing.

This was a review by tMG, thank you very much for reading.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:51 pm

I feel like the more graphic a film is the better you rate it. Hm. Coincidence?
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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Deviss on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:00 pm

Not necessarily. I rated Centurion three and a half stars and that was much more graphic and bloody than End of Watch was. It was because of its story that I rated End of Watch higher, not because of its blood and swearing.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by frang on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:05 pm

You need to watch more movies if you want to do this seriously. Cop movies are a major film genre. Some of the movies you should see: Cop Land, Serpico, Training Day, Naked City, Fargo, French Connection, Onion Field, Bullitt (this one contains what some judge to be the BEST CAR CHASE EVER), The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, American Gangster, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 ver.),
To Live and Die in L.A., Colors, Coogan's Bluff, White Heat (very, very highly recommended), Prince of the City, Roaring Twenties, Public Enemy...I could go on all night long. Cop movies are a part of the bigger genre of crime movies, so they sometimes blend into gangster movies and heist movies. Seriously, my man, go over to IMDB and go through user lists of crime and cop films. If you haven't seen White Heat ("Top of the world, Ma!"), do so immediately. It's a hybrid cop/gangster movie, and Edmund O'Brien and Jimmy Cagney are not to be believed! You think Pacino and De Niro are good, oh man...

Someone in the clan, maybe it's you, maybe not, hates old black and white movies. Some of the best films ever made are in b&w. Deal with it.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by foxrock66(Roadkill) on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:09 pm

Also just plain Heat, and The Departed is a cop movie more or less as well. Amazing flick. So is the other stuff Frang mentioned, White Heat, French Connection, Serpico, American Gangster, the Dirty Harry pics, there's so many that are stupidly good. My favorite genre aside from war dramas
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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Deviss on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:25 pm

I watch what I can when I can Frang, but believe me I would love to do this as a full-time job.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by frang on Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:39 pm

Fox is right, Heat is tremendously good. Forgot to put that on the list. I've only seen the last bit of the The Departed, so I hesitated to put it in for fear zombie clowns were in attendance in the opening parts of the movie.

Dev, watch what you can. Also read Ebert and other reviewers. Denby over at the New Yorker's kinda good, too. If he's still there. One of my RL buddies has degrees in history and film criticism (yeah, that's a real major in southern California colleges, I think he got his at USC, his history degree came from UC Irvine) - you should hear our arguments!!

And, well, cool things sometimes happen if you are diligent and talented. I think the first counts more than the second, but that's just my opinion.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by frang on Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:20 am

Here is Ebert's review of Killing Them Softly, which is just out. Below that is his review of End of Watch. I've been an Ebert junkie for years, I love the way he writes. I was never really crazy about the At The Movies TV show, since the wonderful text of his reviews was never in attendance on those shows.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121128/REVIEWS/121129985

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120919/REVIEWS/120919985

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Denjie on Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:33 am

The Movie Review section has become Dev's. Razz Wink Smile

I would love to watch all those movies mentioned, but don't have access to most of them. I'm also not as big into cop movies as I am gangster/mafia stuff.

Do you guys think it would ever be ok to Review something that was made a long time ago? Does the time it came out make any difference on what we review?

Anyway... love the reviews Dev! Smile

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Deviss on Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:40 am

Denjie wrote:Do you guys think it would ever be okay to review something that was made a long time ago? Does the time it came out make any difference on what we review?
In my opinion, absolutely not. It doesn't matter what the date is, so long as you enjoy doing the review.

Denjie wrote:Anyway... love the reviews Dev! Smile
Thanks Den!

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by Denjie on Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:16 pm

Deviss wrote:
Denjie wrote:Do you guys think it would ever be okay to review something that was made a long time ago? Does the time it came out make any difference on what we review?
In my opinion, absolutely not. It doesn't matter what the date is, so long as you enjoy doing the review.
If that's the mindset of the others, I'll be posting a review soon then.

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Re: David Ayer's "End of Watch"

Post by frang on Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:26 pm

Go for it, Den! Everyone needs to be reminded of the greatness that was....unless you'll be reviewing Plan 9 From Outer Space, in which case, it would be the campiness that was.

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