Title: End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena (‘Tower Heist’), Anna Kendrick (‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part I’) and Natalie Martinez (TV’s ‘Detroit 1-8-7?)
Initially, I wasn’t excited by the prospect of End of Watch. The trailer looked like your standard run of the mill cop movie, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s foray’s into bigger projects haven’t been special (i.e. – Prince of Persia.) While the ads promote it’s from the writer of Training Day, that film mostly rested on the laurels of Denzel Washington’s terrific performance.
It’s my pleasure to admit I was wrong, as End of Watch is one of the better cop movies to come out in some time.
Director (and writer) David Ayer shoots this film like it’s a documentary about the Los Angeles Police Department. Taking a page from The Hurt Locker, Ayer shoots the film raw and furious, dipping in and out of their lives as cops to show us their private lives. The film relies on the chemistry of Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, and thankfully the two feel like best friends. Their love interests, played by Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez, respectively, also turn in fine performances as the wives who have to deal with the everyday lives of police officers.
Ayer’s also great at his portrayal of the villains. While they don’t receive much screen time, it’s their presence that resonates up until the final shootout in their complex. They look no different from any hooligans you’d see on the streets of Los Angeles, and that makes them all the more terrifying.
Unfortunately End of Watch does become too conventional by the end of the film. It’s not enough to undo the film completely, but for a film that mostly goes against your run-of-the-mill cop film, Ayer feels he has to fufill the action tropes we come to expect from the genre. Not that there will be much complaining, as the finale is exciting and there’s enough emotional investment to want our leads to make it out unscathed.
I went in expecting to not like End of Watch and came out pleasantly surprised. The film offers one of the best cop flicks in years, and Ayer’s docu-style creates a tense, nail-biting picture that keeps you glued.
End of Watch comes to us in a 1.78:1 ratio, as Ayer chose to shoot it mostly on consumer-friendly digital HD cameras. It does provide the raw look Ayer is going for, and it does cause the quality of the color to drop. Details are fine close-up, but from far away it becomes a little muddled. But again, this is the intention of the film so it’s really tough to knock it for not being reference quality.
The DTS Master Audio 5.1 Mix is mostly centered, keeping in the spirit of the docu-style of the film. The surrounds do open up when there are shootouts, and David Sadry’s ambient score makes solid use of them as well. While not reference quality, the sound works well enough to fit what the film is going for.
First up is a commentary with writer/director, who provides a solid track, talking about how he was initially uninterested in making it a ‘found footage’ movie until he was brought the real deal. It’s worth a listen, and definitely worth the listen.
Next up is around forty-six minutes of deleted scenes, which while good to see, all deserved to be on the cutting room floor. Some add more back story, but likely would have ruined the taut pacing of the film.
A collection of featurettes are next, and they are “Fate With A Badge”, “In The Streets”, “Women On The Watch”, “Watch Your Six”, and “Honors”. All run about two minutes and are your standard EPK type features.
The big things here are the commentary and deleted scenes, both of which are fine things to have.
End Of Watch was championed by critics and audiences alike, and it’s not hard to see why. The film is a taut cop thriller, and is one of the finer offerings in the cop genre in some time. The Blu-ray offers acceptable picture and audio, and a strong commentary and deleted scenes.