Limacher Low Down: When I first saw the trailer for End of Watch I was instantly intrigued by what I saw. I really enjoyed the gritty look and feel of the trailer, and I was anticipating great action. I admit, much to my surprise, there was a lot more depth to End of Watch than the trailers let on. It’s not just an action movie. With a good amount of comedy, character development, and a story that gives the viewer a greater understanding of the surroundings as well, End of Watch is unique, and encompasses a really well told story. The previews only tell half the story, and because of that I got more than I was expecting.
End of Watch shows the rise of two L.A. beat cops, Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena). The movie jumps right into what feels like an episode of COPS with a Police Camera car chase view with an opening monologue by Officer Taylor. The unique thing about End of Watch, which is established from the start, is the fact it has a POV feel to it. Brian is filming all of his actions at work for a College Class. His fellow officers don’t seem to take a liking to this, but his partner, Mike, really seems to enjoy messing with the filming in a scene that establishes the humor in the movie. Officers Taylor and Zavala take their work seriously, and working a beat in South Central Los Angeles is no easy task. The way the characters are established throughout the first half of the movie adds depth to the movie that isn’t really done anymore. I can understand how the jumpy camera work may upset some viewers; I felt it gave a more realistic feel though.
The banter between Brian and Mike establishes the characters. Mike has been married since he was just out of High School to Gabby (Natalie Martinez), while Brian is establishing a new relationship with Janet (Anna Kendrick). The way End of Watch portrays the time frame is by using specific dates from the camera in the squad car, this gives us a better understanding of how much time has elapsed between scenes, and helps gauge the amount of time that elapses over the movie as well. This was a very well executed device, since most of the time we have to guess how much time has elapsed, or just figure at some point we will be alerted to the time frame.
The previews basically alert us that Brian and Mike have gotten in a little too deep with the cartel, and while that is an important part of the movie, it really isn’t the centerpiece of the story. There is a slow and intermittent development of who the cartel is and the part they play in the area being patrolled by Brian and Mike. The head of the Cartel is Big Evil (Maurice Compte), and his first run in with Mike and Brian is a noise complaint call. This was interesting in the way it was presented; instead of making any arrests or attempting to make a move, the police just see what is going on and turn down the music. I have found in the past, this is the scene where the “bad guys” and the “good guys” would first get involved, but instead there is only a stare down between Brian and Big Evil. I enjoyed that, it didn’t give away too much, but only allowed the tension to build. As the movie moves forward, Mike and Brian make multiple discoveries, but without proper evidence or any way of knowing, they are almost blind to reality of the bad things going down in the community they keep watch over.
We now have character development, a greater understanding of the area, the relationships, and time frame; this leads us to the climactic part of the movie. While there are a few scenes of action and violence, there is nothing that really overshadows the humor the movie provides. The last part of the movie turns on a dime and, much like on a roller coaster, you’re ready for the drop and loops to begin. End of Watch did not disappoint in this area as well. The very realistic feel of the climax of the movie really made me hold on to my seat. You form a special bond with Brian and Mike, and it’s that fact where End of Watch hits home. You develop a relationship with the characters that when the bullets start flying, you’re invested. I love the way this movie did that for me. I felt invested in the characters, due to the development, and it made it that much more climactic for me. The way everything plays out was well done, and made people in the theater gasp with excitement and fear. That is definitely a good thing to experience, especially with an original concept and script.
I started off by saying I was expecting one thing, and getting something completely different, and End of Watch was one of those RARE occurrences that I was happily surprised by what I saw. I can honestly say that this is the first movie I remember seeing in awhile where everything served its purpose, and hit something with everything that was delivered. Jake Gyllenhaal has impressed me with his recent choices, and I have seen Michael Pena in things in the past; this may just be his breakout role. End of Watch was truly a unique movie going experience. If you want to see nothing but action, you may not enjoy this movie. If you want something that will make you laugh, understand, and leave the theater with a feeling that you saw something above and beyond what you thought you might be seeing, End of Watch is one to check out!