End of Watch

South Central Routine


20 September 2012| No Comments on End of Watch     by Sean Chavel


Routine, listless, endless. End of Watch is another LAPD cops on the beat picture that also tries to sort of do a found footage entry at the same time. There are no solid, firm shots in the entire movie. Jake Gyllenhaal is an officer of the law and amateur filmmaker with a handheld HD camera. Michael Pena as the partner is not equipped with the camera. At first we think this is going to be a pic about human trafficking, then the arms trade, and then finally, the Mexican drug cartel. David Ayers has written and directed several cop movies before (“Training Day,” “Dark Blue” and as also director, “Harsh Times”), but this effort feels like diary outtakes that didn’t make his other movies.

The action scenes don’t even work, not even the opening scene. It’s a car chase with traffic and parked cars removed from the road, as if it were a self-conscious movie shoot that roadblocked real Los Angeles traffic and activity. The roads in L.A. are never desolate like this, and a real chase would involve perpetrators swerving around many, many vehicles and pedestrians. Chases are not that common in this diverse city anymore, and if they were common, they wouldn’t look like this.

But enough about the opening scene. The rest of the movie is an arbitrary collection of docudrama incidents. I imagine lesser moviegoers going, “Wow, that was real f*$#ed up! That’s so goddamn real!” I agree, some of the human trafficking and scenes of drugged up parents neglecting their infants are sadly based on genuine events we see on the news. But there is no purpose, no philosophical focus to “End of Watch.” It’s just f*$#ed-up s#*%. My discerning brain wants a circumspective, probing perspective on contemporary crime that dissects why a plague exists and why we can’t lessen down on social malignancies.

Yet Ayers, I can tell, is trying to do something different by letting Gyllenhaal (“Jarhead”) and Pena (“Shooter”) banter not like the cops who loathe each other, but like brothers in arms. The intent is quasi-documentary, of what daily routine is for cops who watch each other’s backs. But the result is labored, frequented, sensationalized, redundant. And female interests Natalie Martinez (“Death Race”) and Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”) are supposed to be important as the women in cops’ personal lives, but I found them to be nothing more than puff.

109 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Colors” (1988); “Training Day” (2000); “Dark Blue” (2002); “Harsh Times” (2005).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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