Every year, multiple films are released that I hear enough about to know that I don’t want to see it. Whether it’s in the casting, choice of director, subject material, genre – whatever the case may be, I know my movie tastes well enough to know that I’m not going to dig the flick.
Watching End of Watch only confirms that I don’t know shit.
Now, for whatever reason, I decided to watch End of Watch last night. Maybe it was to step away from all the heavy-handed Criterions I recently bought and venture into something completely mindless. And about 30 minutes into the film, I realized something startling: I was completely and unapologetically enthralled.
Watching Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña cruise the streets busting up thugs, preventing murders, stopping the drug trade, and so on, proved to be one of the most exciting movie viewing experiences I’ve had this year. About 15 minutes later, I realized something else, this one even more profound: End of Watch didn’t have a plot in sight. It was strictly a character study, completely void of a three-act structure. Sold.
I don’t want to give too much of the film away, but really, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot too give away. Gyllenhaal and Peña play partners of the law working South Central. That’s it. Gyllenhaal’s character is taking a film class, so occasionally he films episodes from his beat, but never once does End of Watch pretend to be a found footage film. Instead, the footage from Gyllenhaal’s cameras only heightens or accentuates the narrative footage of the film.
Aside from ballsy narrative devices, the movie is genuinely tense, boasting solid acting from its two leads, along with great supporting roles by Frank Grillo, David Harbour, Cody Horn and Anna Kendrick. There’s really no other way for me to put it: this is a solid cop drama that
doesn’t for a second disappoint or bore.
David Ayer has dedicated his career to depicting cops and robbers in LA, writing scripts for The Fast and the Furious, Training Day, Dark Blue, and S.W.A.T., and directing the rather decent corrupt cop drama, Harsh Times. End of Watch is the best thing he’s done yet, and maybe this will come back to bite me, but, for now, you can be damn sure I’ll watch whatever he puts out next. A-