End of Watch
dir-scr David Ayer
prd David Ayer, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Mike Gunther, Matt Jackson
with Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Cody Horn, Natalie Martinez, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, Yahira Garcia, Cle Shaheed Sloan, Maurice Compte, Jaime FitzSimons
release US 21.Sep.12, UK 23.Nov.12
12/US 1h48
End of Watch
Brothers in arms: Peña and Gyllenhaal

kendrick ferrera grillo
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
End of Watch Off-handed performances and an earthy, gritty style elevate this police thriller above the fray. And it's made all the more watchable since Ayer has abandoned his usual corrupt-cop theme, instead focussing on two realistically complex good guys.

Taylor and Zavala (Gyllenhaal and Pena) are always in trouble for joking around, but they also continually make notable arrests, annoying their colleague Van Hauser (Harbour) while slowly earning the respect of their gruff Sarge (Grillo). And their loyal bond extends to their private lives as well, supporting each other as Taylor falls for Janet (Kendrick) and as Zavala's wife (Martinez) gives birth to their first child. But two of their grislier busts have caught the eye of a Mexican cartel boss, who puts a price on their heads.

The film is shot in a fly-on-the-wall style, using handheld cameras, often part of the scenes themselves. But Ayer is just mimicking the style to add intensity to the scenes, which sometimes works even as the constant shaky-cam becomes rather tedious and pointless. Instead, the film feels urgent and honest because of the offhanded acting style and the meandering nature of the story's first half, before the Big Plot Point kicks in. We know where this is headed once they mention the "three food groups" of drugs, money and guns.

Gyllenhaal and Pena generate especially vivid chemistry, which is essentially what the movie is about. Their scenes overflow with humour and sarcasm, then suddenly shift into life-or-death suspense with each call-out. Their scenes with Kendrick and Martinez continue this realistic tone, mixing comedy with genuine emotion. While Ferrera gives a remarkable against-type turn as a tough-as-nails colleague.

As Zavala says, "Policing is all about comfortable footwear." Ayer's goal seems to be to capture the everyday life of two average-guy cops, so he packs the film with details both on the job and around it, plus a variety of incidents from a horrific house-fire to the discovery of a room packed with trafficked people. Sometimes the grisly street-style feels overstated, as does the swaggering dialog and pumped-up masculinity, but the film has a terrific energy about it that's funny, feisty and scary, often all at the same time.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 16.Aug.12

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