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September Film Favorites

End of Watch (2012)


Year: 2012
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: R
Time: 109 mins.

David Ayer has written (Training Day, S.W.A.T) and directed (Harsh Times, Street Kings) numerous films related to the drama of the law enforcement and still it seems like he isn't tired of the same old story-lines. To make his third film, End of Watch have a new breath of seemingly fresh air, he used found-footage film to amplify the reality. By handing the camera over to Jake Gyllenhaal's Officer Taylor and Michael Pena's Officer Zavala ("Z"), Ayer gambles on the validity of the reality he desperately wanted to maintain through this medium.  In the end, it pays off and even overwhelms the little faults to be dismissed as passable.

After confiscating a small amount of money and firearms from a member of dangerous cartel on a routine traffic stop, Two LAPD officers are aimed for death.  

The problem with making a film entirely of "found footage" is that the character needs a reason to film everything. And while in Chronicle it worked as an outlet for Andrew's isolation, Officer Taylor's excuse was that he was filming for school credit which is not plausible enough to jeopardize his career. Instead of mixing found footage and standard shots, the film carries on in this fashion and at moments there is an ominous-like mystery figure holding the camera which causes the audience to become aware of itself by ruining the immersion. The camera technique works for the most part but for future reference, it's better used as a technique rather than part of the story-line. The "Blair Witch" camera movements does it's job by creating a claustrophobic atmosphere within their everyday life-threatening encounter.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena has mad chemistry as the "we ride, we die together" kind of  LAPD partners. Their characters truly shine like rhinestones on a .45 gun in the private moments of patrolling the streets of south central. They giggle and chuckle like little girls as they joke and mimic each other in their respective ethnic accent is not only for comic purposes but shows the depths of their friendship. You know people like this and they speak the gritty truth about their backgrounds, relationships, and ambitions. Seeing Pena doing an "white" person's accent was priceless and hearing the audience burst into hollers brought a new level of reality to the story. It was the first instance I've witnessed on film where a character addresses another character especially of "white" decent to become aware of his ethnicity and privileges. The film put more emphasis on the iron strong bond between the two officers which is always a heartbreaking formula for disaster. Officer Taylor's immature eagerness to become the hero becomes the driving force to the story as he tries to investigate the wrong people. Their encounters with gangsters fuel their own will to become like them as well as being the hero which eventually serves as a plateau to their success and their fall. At the end of the day and the movie, even through it's formulaic story, it is the brotherhood relationship that makes this adrenaline-inducing film bearable. B-

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