The past seven days

Sunday, March 3, 2013

End of Watch - Review

End of Watch is a documentary-style movie that follows two young LAPD cops in the Newton Division during their daily patrols. After highly recognized heroism the partners accidentally stumble upon a large drug cartel run by the area gang members and get caught with the consequences.

I had heard about End of Watch mostly when all the award nominations were rolling out because there were a lot of people who went out there and were making claims that End of Watch got stiffed. I had previously seen set photos featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as a police officer but that was the most I ever saw. I don't even think I saw a trailer until December. The way it starts is set up as a film project for Gyllenhaal's character who is taking a filmmaking class. His partner, played by Michael Pena, goes along with it and it mostly just follows them on daily patrols. The opening scene shows them following a car on a chase throughout the division area and ending in a shootout which they obviously won. I will say that I am glad I gave this movie a chance.

First of all, I thought it did a good job of representing the danger of the area of South-Central Los Angeles as well as the danger of being a police officer there. There was a line that Gyllenhaal delivers during the movie where he says something like Newton Division officer draw their weapons more in a day than most police officers do in their entire careers. I have no problem believing that as I've been to LA several times. I also loved how they made it seem like it was truly a film project from the one officer. Sure, there were shots that obviously couldn't have been filmed from either of them but that is because it is a real movie and not an amateur project. It did make it seem more like the latter, though. I loved that. Going along with that the way they split up Gyllenhaal's work footage and personal footage with his girlfriend, played by Anna Kendrick, was also good.
As far as acting goes I thought this was fantastically acted. Both Gyllenhaal and Pena had great chemistry and the way they conveyed the preparation they did prior to filming was real. You could tell they actually learned how police officers do their jobs and did the research. I even thought the supporting characters were great and that includes Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez who played the officer's significant others. Even the other officers were great.
Aside from that I thought even the plot was pretty well done. It wasn't anything spectacular but given the type of movie this was it worked.

My only real complaint is the language. Like, I am not offended by cursing or anything like that but there does come a time when it is just overused. It got to a point where it was just distracting for me to hear the word "fuck" used at least twice in every sentence. 

I don't want to give too much away because the end of the movie really takes you by surprise and the intensity level is really high, but I will say this... everything unfolds very suddenly and kind of slaps you in the face with it. It is well played out and it does really take a toll on you as a viewer. I'm not ashamed to say I cried like crazy at the end. Take this how you want to before watching this movie: "In law enforcement, 'end of watch' has two meanings; it commonly refers to time to go off duty at the end of shift/watch. Also, if an officer is killed in the line of duty, the date of his death is referred to as his end of watch."

Easily an 8 out of 10 for me, personally. I really liked it. 

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