Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena head up Writer/Director David Ayer’s cop film, which takes place in Los Angeles, the same location for “Training Day”, the film Ayer wrote, and that was released back in 2001. It is hard to believe it has been that long. It was difficult for me to go into this film and not compare it directly with what was possible Denzel Washington’s most electrifying performance. So, admittedly, I am writing this review through that lens.
“End of Watch” follows two cops through their patrol on the streets of Los Angeles. We get to know them as individuals, including the ups and downs of their personal lives, and their pursuit to becoming “legit” street cops. There was definitely a lot of gunfire, a heck of a lot of language (yes, I did use “heck” on purpose), and some pretty disturbing scenes where the cops discover some fowl play to make some of the most hardcore fans shudder a least a little bit.
The dialogue in the film gets a little bit repetitive for me. It seems like we hack through the same type of thing over and over again. The cops bantering back and forth, getting in trouble for crossing the line, and things of that nature get old really fast. A lot of what they experience we don’t see the end result of. **SPOILER ALERT** To back up this opinion, there is one scene where the cops get called to a home and the lady of the house is panicking that her two small children are missing, and that they need for them to go out and find them immediately. There are two other men in the apartment. Upon investigation in the household, they discover the children duct taped and stored in one of the closets. This is one of those scenes that even the grittiest filmgoer would shudder at. My gripe is that the scene ends with the discovery of the children. Yes, we should be able to use our imagination and connect the dots as to what would happen next, but I felt like there could have been more given.
All of this being said, there is plenty to like about the film. It delivers what fans of these types of films want to see. Ayer has definitely found his niche over the years will films like the aforementioned “Training Day” as well as films like “S.W.A.T” and “The Fast and the Furious”. There is an emotional conclusion to the film that leaves viewers something to think about.
Anybody looking to go get a good dose of good guys and bad guys, with a helping of real-life drama, this may be the film for you. But you aren’t going to find anything here that you haven’t seen before.
-David B. Harrington