Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5
It starts out as a cop buddy movie, like we’ve seen hundreds of times on film and on tv, but there’s a realism here that differentiates End of Watch, infused by the ultra realism, by the hand held camera (a technique that was irritating to me at times) and especially by the fine acting of Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Pena, as the aforementioned buddy cops. They have developed a closeness after years as partners that’s like a married couple, a comedy duo insulting each other non-stop and at the end, the core of an extended family that encompasses each other’s wives and families. The plot is not about much more than the day-to-day routine and unpredictable violence and risk they encounter and face head-on like soldiers on the front, reminding me of patrolling Taliban infested villages not knowing when a civilian is your deadly enemy or a victim that needs to be rescued. The tension builds into a climax and then an anti-climax that I both liked and wondered about, from a film making perspective, which I won’t explain here to avoid giving a spoiler. Overall, a terrific film, but not for the faint hearted. And Jake proves he’s one of our greatest actors, which I have believed since he starred in Brothers.
Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
I thought this was a pretty good movie that with a few changes could have been a very good movie. This easily could have been a film adaptation of a Joseph Wambaugh novel–it has all the same elements–although it wasn’t (check out The Choirboys if you want to read one of Wambaugh’s best). A large part of the movie is just everyday police life. End of Watch initially focuses on two partners and daily police life, showing how they deal with other members of the precinct, how they bond with each other, and how they often spend more time and, at times, are more dependent on their partner than their significant other. Much of their day is spent just cruising in their patrol car but that is punctuated by times of great personal danger or witnessing some truly horrific acts. This movie does a good job of showing that dichotamy and how they deal with it. At the end of this part of the movie you really care about these guys. The last part of the movie deals with the ramifications of of them having unwittingly ticked off the drug cartel.
The partners are played by Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal. They both give terrific nuanced performances showing the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives.
I did have three quibbles with the film:
1) In an early scene, the cops are in a car chase. When they stop the car, the bad guys get out and start shooting. Instead of shooting back from behind their cruiser, the partners jump out from their car and charge at the bad guys with guns a-blazing. No way! But I will say that most other parts of the movie seemed realistic.
2) Bill mentioned the hand held camera. If it had just been Jake Gyllenhaal using a camera, I probably would have been ok with it. But one of the bad guys was doing this too, and not just filming them hanging out, but also planning their crimes. Too much.
3) Bill also mentioned a part at the end. I won’t go into detail either but I thought the director manipulated the move audience unnecessarily.
Despite these things, I still thought the movie was definitely worth watching.