End of Watch B
Opens Sep 21
With his new feature, “End of Watch,” the gifted writer-director-producer David Ayer makes it clear that the gritty and visceral urban policier is his genre of choice.
Dramatically, “Ënd of Watch” is not as compelling or riveting as the 2001 “Training Day,” still Ayer’s best work to date, for which Denzel Washington deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar.
Once again, the narrative focuses on two cops, exploring their intimate and intense relationship, albeit from a different angle than the one used in “Training Day.”
World premiering at the Toronto Film Fest (in the Special Screenings section), “Ënd of Watch”will be released by Open Road on September 21, and based on the critical response in Toronto, the movie should do reasonably well at the box-office.
In lieu of Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawker, we have equally talented actors of the next, younger generation, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, as two thrill-seeking cops, but highly committed to their jobs, in the mean streets of South Central, Los Angeles.
One can claim that the gimmick of a faux-found-footage has been used one too often in American movies of the past decade, ever since the 1999 “Blair Witch Project.” But it works well here, serving the purposes of Ayer’s scenario.
This time around we get to see the “other,” less documented side of urban cops, manifest in the film’s dedication to all that fight evil so we may not know it.” In this respect, Ayer’s film is a touching tribute to policemen as devoted and skilful public servants who risk their lives on a daily (and especially nightly) basis.
From the first scene, a fast-paced chase shot through the windshield of an LAPD squad car, which ends in violence, to nearly the last act, “Ënd of Watch” is a satisfying film, largely due to the acting of the two leads and the rapport between them.
Gyllenhaal plays officer Brian Taylor, longtime partner of officer Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), who get assigned by their Sarge (Frank Grillo) to a new assignment and new, equally risky inner-city zone.
Shying away remarkably from stereotypes and accepted conventions in depicting cops, Ayer the writer digs deep into their lives, showing in detail their work routine as well as their leisure activities, while socializing with the women in their lives, a new aspect for Ayer and the genre at large. We see Zavala interacts with his pregnant wife (Natalie Martinez) and Taylor’s femme (played by Anna Kendrick).
It might be a minor complaint, but I wish the femmes in the two officers’ lives did not belong to their race: Latina for Zavala, white for Taylor. It’s time for Hollywood to depict portraiture of greater cultural and racial diversity, which reflects reality (by the way).
“End of Watch” adds an honorable panel to the genres of the male buddy as well as urban procedural policier.
Brian Taylor – Jake Gyllenhaal
Mike Zavala – Michael Pena
Gabby – Natalie Martinez
Janet – Anna Kendrick
Van Hauser – David Harbour
Sarge – Frank Grillo
Orozco – America Ferrera
Mr. Tre – Cle Sloan
Capt. Reese – Jaime Fitzsimmons
Davis – Cody Horn
An Open Road release.
Directed, written by David Ayer.
Produced by John Lesher, David Ayer, Nigel Sinclair, Matt Jackson.
Executive producers: Randall Emmett, Stepan Martirosyan, Remington Chase, Adam Kassan, Chrisann Verges, Guy East, Tobin Armbrust, Jake Gyllenhaal.
Co-producers, Alex Ott, Ian Watermeier, Jillian Longnecker.
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