End of Watch (2012) Film Review, a movie directed by David Ayer and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Cody Horn, Shondrella Avery, and Everton Lawrence.
End of Watch is the kind of “buddy cop” film that makes you forget it’s actually a buddy cop film. Here we have two officers, officer Brian Taylor played by Jake Gyllenhaal and officer Mike Zavala played by Michael Peña. Zavala is married and has been since before he thought he had the option. Taylor is sleeping his way towards the right girl, yet none seem to contain the intellectual capacity he desires. What binds the two is not only their love for the law but policing one of the most dangerous areas in South Central LA.
The love story, if you want to call it that, is incorporated seamlessly into the film. Sometimes it seems like the romance is actually between Zavala and Taylor and in some ways it is. The real story, however, is the duo’s probing into an ever-weirder situation involving Mexican cartels and possibly human trafficking. This plotline is fed out mostly through sort-of vignettes and is reinforced by the found-footage style employed. There are logistical and logical problems regarding this methodology but they can be overlooked for the sake of what ends up being a thoroughly engrossing film through and through.
Gyllenhaal shines as the cocky Labrador. Peña is equally as effective and completely proves himself in one of his first real shots at a leading role albeit shared. If he does not significantly break out after this role, Hollywood is full of even more morons than we know about.
Of course as is the case in most police films there is an ensemble cast and there really are no weak links. David Harbour is delightful as ornery officer Van Houser. America Ferrera, Anna Kendrick, and Natalie Martinez make the most of what little screen time they have.
The cadre of villains in the film are smartly portrayed and Ayer takes a leap by casting a woman as one of the primary antagonists. In a genre brimming with machismo, Yahira Garcia holds her own.
Although the ideas are a little similar and writer David Ayer is the author of both movies, End of Watch is not Training Day. In fact, in a lot of ways they are the opposite. That being said, if you enjoyed one you will most likely enjoy the other. Which one is better? I’ll leave that for you to decide.