We have seen countless â€œrealisticâ€ and â€œgrittyâ€ cop dramas in Hollywood and particularly in the past decade there seems to have been a rush to put one out every six months or so. It's either a story about corrupt cops doing the right thing or getting their comeuppance or its about rookies facing hell on their first day or some or the other story presented in a very gritty fashion. Some are interesting, the rest run of the mill but once you've seen a few you've seen them all. So what differentiates 'End of Watch' from the countless other ones out there?
Brain Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miguel Zavala (Michael Pena) are partners in the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.). The movie follows them through various daily routines, professional and personal. The action picks up after the two run afoul of a Hispanic gang and a price is put on their heads.
David Ayer who's written and/or directed other new-age police dramas such as 'Training Day', 'Harsh Times' and 'Street Kings' in addition to other police potboilers such as 'S.W.A.T.' and 'The Fast and the Furious' on the other hand pretty much sticks to genre conventions. However he realizes the importance of having the audience form a connection with your characters and that's where his movie shines. While we get into the lives of the two leads, including their families and all; the moments that form that bond are watching them simply converse. To see them as normal people minus the forced sentimentality and just have two people with such a realistic bond of friendship elevates the movie from yet another cop drama to another level altogether. This aspect is really important in how the ending affects you, cause if you don't buy their friendship then the ending will be of little consequence to you.
Ayer utilizes Taylor's handycam which he carries around for a college project, a narrative tool and despite the shaky effect it works especially when seen in the context of all those cop reality television shows.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play off against each other beautifully and are the prime reason to watch this movie. The rest of the cast too is quite good but pale in comparison to the two leads.
'End of Watch' is a worthy watch and contains some genuine moments of humor and drama. This is one of the best new-age cop dramas that have come in the past five years or so. It's a shame that the movie is not releasing all over India and only in certain territories.