Review: END OF WATCH (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Review: END OF WATCH (2012)

RATING: 2.5/5

From his breakthrough screenplay in 2001's TRAINING DAY to his both equally intense directing efforts in 2006's HARSH TIMES and 2008's STREET KINGS, writer-director David Ayer has a seemingly endless fascination with the gritty undertones of LAPD. And his trend of the familiar cop genre continues with his latest directing effort, END OF WATCH. At the first glance, the movie is more of the same gritty L.A.-set cop drama that we have seen many times before. But this time, it's a relief that Ayer doesn't exactly repeating himself too much. In END OF WATCH, he refashions the familiar cop genre with pseudo-documentary, found-footage style. Shooting a gritty cop movie in handheld camera gives you that extra edge of you-are-there kind of feel, and END OF WATCH scores most of that point. Too bad, like any other David Ayer's movie (excluding TRAINING DAY), the movie doesn't capitalize its promising setup into a satisfying whole.

The opening scene begins with Officer Brian Taylor's (Jake Gyllenhaal) voiceover who speaks about his inner thought working in the LAPD, before continues with a chase scene, filmed from the dashboard of a police car. (Think of it like the first five minutes in Kathryn Bigelow's STRANGE DAYS). The hot pursuit against a black Monte Carlo ends up with Taylor and his partner, Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) gunned down a pair of armed criminals after they halted their assailant's vehicle. Their gung-ho way of doing their job earned them a reputation as "ghetto gunslingers" and both of them are full of bad-ass attitudes that their fellow colleagues don't particularly like them very much. Despite their reckless behaviors, both Brian and Mike are best buddies who treated each other like brothers.

One day, during their ongoing beat, they have unexpectedly anger a group of high-level drug dealers and encounter some grisly activities revolves around a Mexican drug cartel. During off-hours, Brian has found a right girl named Janet (Anna Kendrick) and plans to settle down with her. Meanwhile, Mike is a loving family man where he and his wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) are expecting their first child together.

Ayer's stylistically gonzo filmmaking style is both inventive and gripping altogether (the POV scene is among the best), while the two actors -- Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, are top-notch. They certainly brings a natural, yet believable chemistry together from the minute one. They are really enjoyable to watch for. Other supporting actors are equally ace, even for relatively small roles like Anna Kendrick who gives a sweet-natured performance as Janet. Newcomer Yahira 'Flakiss' Garcia, in the meantime, gives a frighteningly believable performance as the foul-mouthed and cold-hearted female gang member La La.

The shootout scene, particularly the one in the violent finale where Brian and Mike find themselves stranded in the neighborhood without backup, is riveting.

But for all the fancy aesthetics and top-notch cast, END OF WATCH remains a halfhearted effort. Beyond those gimmicks Ayer has to offer, his script is shopworn. Not only that, his script also tends to drag a lot with routine melodrama and there are times that Ayer gets overwhelmed with all the bromance between Brian and Mike.

As flawed as it may be, END OF WATCH remains a fairly compelling effort to watch for.

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