sun 20/04/2014

LFF 2012: End of Watch | Film reviews, news & interviews

LFF 2012: End of Watch

David Ayer directs Jake Gyllenhaal in a freewheeling cop thriller

Police, Camera, Action! Jake Gyllenhaal polices the mean streets in 'End of Watch'

Often portrayed as corrupt or, at best, on the front line of a war zone, the officers of the LAPD are regulars on the big and small screen. On TV, Southland and The Shield have examined the LAPD in microscopic detail and earlier this year Rampart intermittently impressed with its focus on one cop in freefall. With police procedural End of Watch writer-director David Ayer is on home turf: he’s the man behind several LA-set police thrillers, including Training Day (for which he penned the screenplay).

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play patrol officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala. Despite objections, Taylor has been filming himself and Zavala at work and there’s a sense from the off that he’s documenting their downfall; the film opens with a shoot-out and, while filming, they’re warned by a colleague (played by America Ferrera – TV’s Ugly Betty) that “they can subpoena that shit if things go wrong.” End of Watch follows the men as they uncover the deeply disturbing activities of a Mexican cartel but, like some of the best police drama, this is as much about the partners’ brotherly bond as it is about what goes down on the street. These two men would follow each other into a fire (at one point this quite literally happens).

Put together to seem at least partially self-shot, there’s plenty of visceral, high-stakes excitement and occasionally Ayer throws in footage shot by criminal gangs, or external police surveillance, creating tension by putting us one step ahead of our heroes. Rivetingly paced and impressively performed, End of Watch doesn’t say anything new but it says what it does with swagger and heart.

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