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End of Watch

February 20, 2013

End of Watch movie poster


End of Watch is fantastic. The character development, screenplay and fly on the wall aesthetic make for a gut wrenching experience that earns it’s suspense, action and story development. What I loved most about End of Watch is that it shows and doesn’t tell. There isn’t loads of unnecessary expository dialogue that explains everything to you. Through the characters actions and interactions you grow to like them and the world becomes real. The drunken speeches, gun fights and characters ring true because you appreciate the characters and the friendships formed.

End of Watch Michael and Jake


Director David Ayer (writer of Training Day) put a lot of responsibility on his actors to create believable and likable characters who guide us through the criminal muck of  Los Angeles.  Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo and Cody Horn deliver  fully realized performances that benefit from Ayer’s “always rolling” directing style. You like them and their motivations and actions never seem false because of the care the script takes. It is a breath of fresh air to hold your breath during intense scenes because you don’t want any ill will befalling the characters.

Premiere Of Open Road Films' "End Of Watch" - Red Carpet


I knew I loved the film during a particularly funny/intense moment involving a fair fight. There is a moment in the film where Gyllenhaal and Pena are on a routine call and come across a belligerent man who won’t stop running his mouth. So, Pena makes him a deal. The two will fight and If the loudmouth can beat up Pena they will let him go. If Pena wins they bring him to jail. A fair fight breaks out, Gyllenhaal never jumps in and Pena eventually wins via brutal gut shots. What happens? They take the guy in for minor criminal charges and he has a new found respect for the duo that will play into the film. Also, I dug how this film allowed Pena to finally flex his acting chops. He was the best part of 30 Minutes or Less, Observe and Report and Crash but was overshadowed due to the ensemble nature of the films. The dude can act and this is his showcase. It is a shame that he or Jake didn’t get nominated for Academy Awards.

Co-writer John was talking about the recent Die Hard debacle and he said “the action scenes were fantastic but I didn’t care about them because they were unearned.” John was watching a film where everything was blowing up and he was bored. In End of Watch when they make a routine traffic stop you are on the edge of your seat. The tension is earned and the threat of the Mexican cartel is real. The best part is that the two get in the cross-hairs of the cartel because they take their job seriously and are good at it. There is no stolen money or corruption clouding their judgement. They are good men who risk their lives daily because they love their jobs.

End of Watch movie car


I like how Ayer rolled the camera constantly because the film feels natural. By inhabiting their roles for long camera takes you sense that all the actors bought into their characters and this allowed for wonderful random moments.  When they are driving around in their squad car Jake and Michael had plenty of time to improv and do nothing but talk. You see that they are best friends and thus believe in the relationship. However, my favorite character bonding moment is when Kendrick and Gyllenhaal sing Cam’ron’s Hey Ma to charming effect.

End of Watch Anna Kendrick


You need to watch End of Watch. It is the rare film that takes time to build characters and tension. Everything feels earned, it is one of the best of 2012 and there hasn’t been a better film about police in a long time.

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