Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Natalie Martinez, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, Cle Shaheed Sloan, Jaime FitzSimons, Cody Horn, Shondrella Avery, Yahira 'Flakiss' Garcia, Maurice Compte
Written by: David Ayer
Directed by: David Ayer
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use
Running Time: 109
Date: 09/08/2012

End of Watch (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Video Cop

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

End of Watch is being advertised as "from the writer of Training Day." David Ayer has written and directed other things, but certainly Training Day is the best of them, and thankfully End of Watch captures some of that movie's energy. Ayer understands the rudiments of a day of work, and we see the main characters at all points during their shifts, bored, tired, waiting around, as well as the more exciting stuff. The movie overdoes it a bit in terms of the frequency and intensity of exciting stuff, but it's easily forgiven.

Los Angeles police officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) claim they see more action in a day than many other cops see in their entire careers, and it looks to be true. During some of their routine patrols, they come across increasing evidence of Mexican drug cartels, doing business on a scale previously unheard of, and all the regular codes of the street no longer apply. For a class project, Brian films everything that happens to them, including chases and shootouts, as well as shocking, gory discoveries behind closed doors. We also see Brian getting serious with his new girlfriend (Anna Kendrick). But what will happen to her, and to Mike's loving wife, when the cops find themselves in too deep?

The movie's best attribute is the strong chemistry between the two characters, one white and one Hispanic. Their banter and bond seems genuine, and it's infectious. Additionally, the clandestine video-camera style works to capture a unique, intimate rhythm, but it also raises questions of practicality: where did the footage of the bad guys come from? Did they film it themselves and then donate it? Regardless, End of Watch is still an intense, entertaining drama.

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