Thursday, October 11, 2012

End Of Watch - Review

End of Watch
Police/Crime Drama
1 hr. 49 min.

Rated: R Strong violence, disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use.

Grade: B- 

Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña and Anna Kendrick | See full cast and crew

A powerful story of family, friendship, love, honor and courage, End of Watch follows Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, two young Los Angeles police officers, Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, as they patrol the meanest streets of south central Los Angeles. The action unfolds primarily via footage from the handheld HD cameras of the police officers, gang members, surveillance cameras, and citizens caught in the line of fire to create a portrait of the city's most dangerous corners, the cops who risk their lives there every day, and the price they and their families are forced to pay.

End Of Watch was made on a relatively small budget of $7 million and in 19 days it has earned nearly five times that much at just shy of $34 million. When I saw it there were only about six of us in the theater. It was difficult for me to sit through this film. The very first word of the film is an F-bomb and the bombardment continues incessantly throughout the entire movie. In many scenes it is used every second word and I'm not exaggerating. It appears the director thinks that this is necessary in order to portray authenticity and realism. Every actor with any dialogue in this film is required to use the F word, including scenes involving toddlers and young children. The dialogue is riddled with crude, rude and lewd profanities, much of it centering on extremely vulgar sexual references.
The inference by writer/director David Ayer, I assume, that this is the norm, that all L.A. cops talk like this. The police officers' language is only slightly less egregious than that of the human scum that are represented by the gangbanging Bloods and the Curbside Locotes (affiliates of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel). I don't know if this is an accurate portrayal of the average member of the LAPD or not. I hope not. I'd like to think that our men and women in blue have higher morals than what is presented here, furthermore in my opinion, the film could have been made very effectively without all the 'gutter talk' and it would have been a more engaging story without that distraction. Instead it was so irritating and annoying that it almost drove me from the theater.

Another huge distraction distraction for me is the 'found footage' camera technique. That Blair Witch Project (1999) hand held shaky camera annoyance. I really hate this gimmicky, cheap film making technique, a little goes a very long way. There is a very fine line before it becomes an aggravation and little more than audience torture.

On the plus side, the lead performances, by Jake Gyllenhaal as Brian Taylor and Michael Peña as Mike Zavala are really quite good. They exhibit excellent chemistry as partners in their black and white 'street beat' cruiser, where they spend the majority of their time bantering back and forth about philosophy, bravado, loyalty, dating and sexual advice, and how great it is to have a good paying job that didn't require a college degree and a few other topics. They have a sort of brotherly 'bromance' going on ...they reiterate how much they love each other and how they would both take a bullet for the other. Those promises will be put to the test.
All the other characters, their fellow cops, their romantic interests, the criminals and victims ate merely window dressing. Anna Kendrick as Janet, Brian's girlfriend, is quite a contrast from her followup role of Beca, the lead role in Pitch Perfect. (buy the music here)

There is really not much of a plot going on here. No mystery or crime to solve. There isn't a singular 'bad guy' that they are out to take down. It's more like a high intensity, gritty 'COPS' ride-along episode. The calls they go on are varied, but they are all horribly negative or gruesome in nature, involving vile, low-life ghetto dwellers and gang-bangers with one exception, a house fire where their actions win them citations for risking their lives to save some children. They prowl the seediest side of Los Angeles, the film is like a 1 hr. 49 min. Public Service Announcement on why you whould never want to live L.A. It's not all action, there is paperwork, and a lot of just standing around and waiting, 'Police work is all about comfortable shoes', opines Mike. They are young, adrenaline junkies and love to pick on each other and prank their fellow officers.
In the credits, End Of Watch is dedicated to the brave men and women of law enforcement everywhere who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve us...sadly, as I see it, the End Of Watch presents them in a somewhat negative light, as bitter, disillusioned, foulmouthed, crude, hard, vulgar, amoral and trigger happy heathens.
If an 1 hr. 49 min. of very vulgar profanity - start to finish - is something that you would find grating or offensive, I would recommend that you stay home or see something else. If you decide to wait for a sanitized version on DVD, you will be waiting for a silent movie, once all the 'bleeps' have been removed. As for myself, I would never subject myself to sit through this film a second time. 
If you would like to read the complete storyline of the film, click this link:
 Spoiler Alert
Via Wikipedia
Brian Taylor                        Mike Zavala
Janet                                    Gabby

 Frank Grillo            David Harbour        America Ferrera
Sarge                        Van Hauser                        Orozco

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