As you may have noticed, the reviews of this film are up and down; some praise it to the nines, others think it's a load of huey! Well each to their own I guess. If we all liked the same things, ate the same food, listened to the same music, talked the same and looked the same it would be a colossally boring world hey?
I had my preconceptions before I watched the film, but very quickly they dissolved and what I found rather than the usual utterly violent, gritty, angry, tough American cop drama, was a film that although about two police officers working in Los Angeles' very dangerous South Central area, known for violent gangs and big drug dealers and murders and violent crimes by the dozen, is actually a bromance, about two friends on the same 'beat' telling jokes to each other, swearing, laughing, being offensive and making sleazy jokes about their women, you know typical guys everywhere, as they ride around their pitch in LA. What happens, and I won't go over the plot or spoil it for you, is they cross serious players and then the film kicks into another gear as they become marked men. Both lead actors in the movie are very good and watchable and convincing, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, who play the cop buddies, and there is an outstanding performance by an actor called Maurice Compte who plays 'Big Evil'; not a guy you'd want to cross in an alley on a light night let alone a dark night!
All in all, a very enjoyable, if violent, cop movie with a difference.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays L.A. Cop Brian Taylor, who describes himself as `I am fate with a badge and a gun' at the beginning of the film. He is teamed with Mexican Michael Pena (`The Lincoln Lawyer') playing cop, Mike Zavala. They are the sort of cops that are all guns out but not so gung ho as to be corrupt and through their joint effervescence for the job, they get lucky. That is they manage to hit upon a couple of busts for both narcotics and human trafficking. Whilst this brings them to the attention of the powers that be, it also gets them the unwanted attention of the Cartel, crime lords - who respond reasonably enough, by ordering their death.
Brian has met Janet (Anna Kendrick - `50/50') and Mike is married to Gabby (Natalie Martinez `Broken City' just out) and she is pregnant and he can't wait to be a Daddy. Meanwhile dark forces gather on the L.A. streets where every other word has to involve `fornication with your Mum' type talk or the person talking will not be taken seriously. The gangs are either Black or Hispanic and a turf war is being waged almost non stop.
This quite a good film, and it should be it comes from writer and director David Ayer who grew up on these streets and is responsible for `Training Day', `Harsh Times' and `Street Kings' so he knows his trade. The language is gritty, the violence believable and the plot convincing up until it falls into a cliché of sorts near the end, but it is just forgivable, to say what it is would be a plot spoiler. The sound track is quite good too; I spotted Mazzy Star, Black Rebble Motor Cycle Club and Public Enemy in there along with a load more.
So a well made and acted and actually quite engaging film and I was presently surprised by how good it actually was, a plot twist too much could have ruined it, but in the end it all worked rather well - recommended.
on 1 September 2013
I saw a trailer to this movie back a few weeks ago and it must be said it looked all a bit.. ho hum... seen it all before.
The reviews came out and they were positive so I gave it a go, not expecting too much...boy was I wrong!
Filmed almost documentary style, gritty, snappy dialogue from the great two leads (Peria and Gyllenhaal) this is pretty much like a two hour episode of the superb US TV show The Shield.
Not just one of the surprise packages of the year, but one of the standout films of 2012.
Interesting, moving, tense if sometimes uneven mix of very rough,
hand-held visual style, improvisational feeling acting, and occasionally
much more conventional plot turns. This study of two slightly gonzo,
gung-ho, but basically righteous Los Angeles cops is alternately deeply
engrossing and affecting, and occasionally frustrating.
When it all works, it feels about as real as any police drama I've ever
seen. (It's also too rare to see an heroic Hispanic lead character in a film
about a city where Latinos make up a huge part of the population)
When it gets in it's own way -- as when the camera-work becomes so
self-conscious that you start thinking about it (Why do so many
characters just happen to have cameras? Why are many of the shots from
angles that could never be from a home video camera, if this is
following a "found video" conceit?) or when the acting occasionally
stops feeling real and suddenly comes off as self- conscious improv. Or
when our heroes are in firefights that look real, but follow Hollywood
rules of logic as to how they turn out. At those points the film can be
maddening, just for undermining how good it is when it's on target.
Still, very worth seeing, and far more interesting than most of what
comes out of Hollywood.
End of Watch features Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code) as Officer Brian Green and Michael Peña (Battle: Los Angeles) as his partner Officer Mike Zavala. The guys patrol a predominately Hispanic neighbourhood in down-town L.A. with a reputation for violence. The hood-mounted-camera based opening scenes see the guys get the baddies and the two become the cocksure heroes of the department. But when they continue to make strides in denting crime in the area, they step on the toes of some much more serious cartel criminals who have no respect for the law. As we see Officer Green and Zavala's personal lives bloom, it becomes clear that they are risking their lives on and off the job for the thrill of the chase, will they make it home alive?
Filmed as a series of POV cameras (either the hand-held the guys carry, their button cams or the mandatory dash/hood cams) this film documents the rise of two young and upcoming stars of the L.A.P.D. - both actors provide a tangible and affable relationship that really comes across - they honestly seemed to be the best of friends and this made the story and surrounding plotlines extremely believable. Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air) plays Gyllenhaal's plausible love-interest and deserves some credit for carrying the slower emotional side of the story - however the action is frenetic and continual. The duo get themselves into more fire-fights than the last stand at the Alamo and the direction, cinematography and choreography are all impeccable - credit to director David Ayer (he directed Training Day to give you an idea) - there is an excellent hip-hop based but laced with mariachi soundtrack to boot.
Most refreshingly, this steers well clear of the usual corrupt-cop story selling out someone in the department à la The Departed and comes across as much, much more original - it's a simple a premise as that. Cops bust bad guys; bad guys fight back - who comes out on top? Resultantly, I was stuck to my seat for the duration, weighing in at 109 minutes including credits. Highly recommended for a cop movie that expends more ammunition than your average war-film.
on 24 March 2015
End Of Watch is a curious film. It nevers seems completely sure of itself and doesn't entirely know what direction in wants to go in. It's very much a slow burner. Focussed more on creating a relationship between these two cops the film spends a lot of time watching their banter in and out if the patrol car. The problem is they aren't the most likeable of characters in the first place.
Throw in some handheld camera action and the whole thing feels a bit disjointed. The shaky cam effect didn't feel like it had any relevance to the story. The little point it had only added to the frustration when the action flipped to this view point.
The story itself wasn't bad but slow to get moving and the crux of it didn't get going until right at the end but the action is good and some of the banter throughout had its entertaining moments.
The film lacked a heart and was cold and despite some good moments it wasn't as engaging as it should have been. It's not a classic cop film but you could do worse.
on 17 February 2015
A powerful film, a 'tad' depressing but heart warming at the same time. It's not your typical cop action film but more of a gritty and emotional ride conveying the close friendship of 2 cops in a tough messed up world. Be warned, there's a few graphical scenes portraying some pretty disturbing scenarios but they're all in context, though I'm not sure it's something I'd want my 15 year old to watch. I noticed a few negative reviews here mention the bad language, I didn't personally notice this as a standout point, certainly no worse than a lot of other films out there, and compared with some of the short but powerful visual scenes the language should be the least of there concerns. I haven't seen many films where I sit though the credits wondering what to do next but this was one of them, thought provoking and well worth watching, suffice to say I won't be coming a cop any time soon!
on 10 March 2016
3 1/2 stars -- There's nothing at all wrong with the performances here -- Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are two cops who together patrol a very rough section of Los Angeles, Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez play their respective wives. It's a conceit of the movie that Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) is filming as much as he can of his life as a cop, although his precinct captain isn't ecstatic about that. But even when he isn't deliberately filming, there are body cams, surveillance cams (for some very nasty bad guys), and car-interior dash cams -- and the all of the video thus generated ostensibly makes up what we see of their lives on the screen. The idea is to seem to show us, the viewer, an unfiltered view of the cops' lives, so the angles are odd, the visual quality is grainy at times. and the pace is hectic. Of course, the impression that this is all unfiltered is an illusion -- the director, David Ayer, has cut and shaped this pseudo-documentary material for his purposes, and these purpose seem to be to create a sense of tension and breathlessness as the cops go about their business. Such editing creates a sense of imminent threat in many situations ( the kinds of cameras ostensibly used here can see only so much, after all), and as we watch we are certainly caught up in the action in a way that we wouldn't be with more conventional pacing and filming. In a way, then, the movie is a triumph of style -- call it pseudo-documentary style -- and that style works to a certain extent.
There are limits, though. The characters and the plot and the situations are standard-issue crime drama: it's just the look that's different. The cops are sympathetic characters; courageous, honest, protective of one another, tough, sensitive. Their lives haven't hardened them, and as family men, they are exemplary. In a more conventionally-paced story, they might strike us as sentimentally idealized, but such is the pace here, that that doesn't strike us until later, when we're thinking over what we've seen. Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that, in the course of doing their job, they run up against the Sinaloa drug cartel, that also seems to run a human trafficking operation. They soon learn that Federal officials have that group under surveillance, and that leads to some awkward moments -- the Feds want to make their moves in their own time, and Taylor and Zavala (Pena) feel compelled to take action when they feel people's lives are in danger, no matter what the Fed agenda is. Their interference, of course, is something that the cartel becomes aware of, and there's a set-up for a final confrontation. All of these kinds of plot complications are what I mean by "standard-issue crime drama," but credit where credit is due -- we see them through new eyes, as it were.
At bottom, though, it's a buddy-movie. Both the cops are very likeable, and for all the profane chatter of the dialogue, the movie is sentimental. If we grant Ayer his visual and editing choice and are thus susceptible to their expressive effects, you have to admit that the movie is well put-together. Ayer's only serious misjudgement, I think, is the final scene -- a conversation in the police car. Even so, I can imagine some viewers thinking that it works.
I was very favourably surprised and even more, IMPRESSED, by this 2012 thriller drama. It is definitely one of the best crime films I saw in those last years. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
The film tells the story of two veteran LAPD officers, Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Pena). They are simple uniformed street patrol officers, albeit Taylor, a former Marine, wants to make detective and studies in the evenings. As part of his studies he records a lot of what happens on their patrols. This film is composed integrally with recordings, mostly those made by Taylor, but also a couple of news reportings, some official ceremonial recordings and also some footage of conversations of street gangsters, mostly made with their cell phones.
I will not say much about the story because it contains twists, surprises and developments which should be discovered integrally by the viewers. I would really advise AGAINST researching this film on internet before viewing, because here any kind of spoilers damage the viewing experience quite seriously. Suffice it to say that Taylor and Zavala are tough (and extremely potty mouthed) but honest and quite likeable police officers, who patrol a particularly rotten, dangerous part of Los Angeles.
Well known by local street gangs for being courageous, tough (and dangeorus if needs be) but fair and honest, they are treated with a (very) reluctant respect by some of gangbangers - but also supremely hated by many others. Amongst the latter the most prominent is Big Evil (Maurice Compte), a (not very sane) leader of a paricularly vicious Latino outfit, the Curbside Gang.
With time we also come to know Miguel's wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) and Taylor's most recent girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), as well as some other police officers and brass both men are working with.
Before "End of watch" David Ayers made two other "cops+gangsters in LA" films, "Harsh Times" in 2006 with Christian Bale and "Street Kings" in 2008 with Keeanu Reeves. The first one was bad and the second one hardly better - in fact I forgot what they were about almost immediately after watching them. But this film, well, this is a whole different enchilada!
"End of watch" is a very good film, both in its technical visual aspect and in its scenario, which is an exceptionally solid thing. Most of this film is dialogs and they are actually very good - even if the amount of OBSCENITIES is such that some DVD players will probably not resist it...))) We are frequently surprised and shocked, but those surprises and shocks actually make sense and the whole story flows very logically and harmoniously until the end. It is a thing rare enough in recent films to deserve particular praise.
The treasures in this film are many and you deserve to discover them by yourself, but I simply must state here, that whoever invented the character of La La (Yakira Flakiss Garcia) should get an Oscar. The very idea of naming the very lesbian and absolutely TERRIFYING top killer of Curbside Gang after one of Teletubbies, well, I bow very low to whomever thought about it...)))
As written in the title of this review, for my personal taste, if "The Shield" was a movie instead of TV show and about good cops, instead of rotten evil ones, well, it would be this film... And for me it is the SUPREME praise, as I simply ADORED "The Shield".
I was very impressed by this film and I will keep the DVD for another viewing in the future. A film to see absolutely! ENJOY!
on 13 August 2014
The first point here is that whoever gave this a 15 cert should have their blue pencil taken away and ritually broken. I have never seen anything more deserving of an 18 cert. Outside of a Tim Minchin lyric, I've never come across such a concentration of f words. It may be accurate in the gang culture depicted, I don't know, but this should be an 18.
OK, rant over.
I'm rarely happy with point of view camera movies, but this one generally works in that respect, and gives a bit of reasoning for the POV filming.
The story is tough, gritty, all that and more, and mostly pretty convincing. You could easily believe a bad LA precinct is like this. The bad guys' shooting is as bad as Star Wars Stormtroopers, and two scenes are almost risible because of that.
However, there are great scenes, the dancing-best dance scene I've seen outside of "Billy Elliot".
The performances, excellent; I now have to remember to think of Jake Gyllenhaal not one of the best young actors, but simply one of the best actors around. Michal Pena, excellent, and the supporting cast on the cops' side superb. Less convincing were the gang members, as I said earlier.
In some ways, it ran for me like a super hard-edged remake of "Fort Apache, the Bronx" - high praise as that's genuinely one of my favourite cop movies.
Oh, and some really good elements in the ending.
The amount of swearing- sorry to come back to it- may stop people watching it- I certainly had to watch it on my own. So, if you watch it on my say-so (I can't believe anyone would), don't blame me, I'd have liked less f words, too.
BUT: a damned good film, too flawed for five stars, but a very solid four.
When I remember to review "Donnie Darko", I think JG will have an average of 4 2/3 stars for movies I'll have reviewed him in. He is brilliant.