'End of Watch' Review: Found Footage Gimmick Enlivens Cop Drama

'End of Watch' Review: Found Footage Gimmick Enlivens Cop Drama

Thereare two main characters in the gritty cop thriller “End of Watch” but for much ofits running time, it feels like there are only two characters inthe whole film. The plot so revolves around Officers Brian Taylor (JakeGyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) that most of the secondarycharacters simply seem there to interact with the dynamic duo at thecore of the story.

Asthe film starts, Zavala has been married for eight years while Taylor, his partner, is enjoying the pleasures of bachelorhood. The police officers spendsome of their time talking about women but much of their time justmaking fun of each other and enjoying one another’s company. They share a fraternal bond that extends beyondthe badge and beyond the mortal limitations of a regular friendship.

Thestory then takes viewers on watch with the cops over a series ofseveral months. We observe Zavala brawling with a known criminal in thedarkness of a house and see how that fight leads the two men to develop acertain respect for each other. We also watch the duo face offagainst violent criminals who neither respect nor appreciate the police.Outside of work, Zavala welcomes a new child into his home and Taylor commits to a relationship with girlfriend Janet (AnnaKendrick). Ultimately, the partners become engaged in a battle with a drug cartel that threatens both of their loves.

Muchof the filming is done by Taylor’s character, who is taking a filmproject at school and recording his daily routine for school. That concept – handheld cameras most of the time -unfortunately grows stale though around the halfway mark. Simply to force the concept to work, thegangsters going after the cops also have their own cameras as well. Even as the action tookoff, it is distracting to still wonder who is holding the camera at any given point. And during privatemoments between the partners and gun battles, it’s difficult to thinkthat someone would be so determined to make sure that it all gets on tape.

That being said, the film strives for realism and often finds it in thedepiction of police work and the relationships that officers share witheach other. A repeated line notes that officers stand by each other asbrothers and sisters and are willing to die for one another. That aspectrings true, and so does some of the crude and vulgar language thatperpetrates the proceedings, even though the reliance of the F-bomb inthe dialogue does seem to be a bit much.

DavidAyer, who wrote and directed the film, also penned “Training Day”so he knows how to tell a solid story on film. He should be commendedfor the well-written and well-acted “End of Watch.” Despite its flaws,


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