Luke Brookman takes on a Mexican drug cartel as he reviews End of Watch.
End of Watch
The Low Down: End of Watch follows tough cops Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Peña) as they work the beat in South Central, L.A. When the pair begin to step on the toes of a Mexican drug cartel they become marked men.
Review: Written and directed by David Ayer, the writer behind the brilliant Training Day, End of Watch doesn’t quite live up to expectation. As the plot moves along you begin to realise this, unlike Training Day, is a gun-toting celebration of the boys in blue. Now, this isn’t necessary a bad thing – the obstacles Brian and Mike have to overcome are huge and you get a sense that these guys really will do anything to protect and serve – but it appears to be too one sided, with the bad guys being reduced to clichéd gang-bangers.
There is a saving grace, however; as might be expected from the man that created the character for which Denzel Washington won his first Oscar, the characters here are brilliantly written. They contrast the two-dimensional bad guys with great, realistic dialogue, which at times is laugh-out-loud funny. Throughout the film there is never any doubt that Brian and Mike are best friends who live and die for each other. The side characters here, too, present the complex personalities of an extremely dangerous profession. The set pieces, also, are a highlight, producing great tension and suspense reminiscent of a Kathryn Bigelow film.
The Best: The final act, in which the hit is put on the two leads’ heads, is utterly thrilling. In fact it would benefit from having more screen time to inject a much-needed bit of adrenaline into many scenes that just seem a bit too subdued.
The Worst: End of Watch starts off as a found footage film based on Brian making a film for a University project. However, it quickly abandons this concept without explanation. The film would benefit from dropping the concept altogether.
Verdict: End of Watch is at times both thrilling and hilarious, however the “sort of” found footage concept becomes baffling and takes away from an otherwise strong plot. It’s no Training Day but still an interesting watch.
Celluloid Influences: Hurt Locker + Bad Boys = End of Watch