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End Of Watch (2012)
Friday, September 21, 2012
Strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna kendrick, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, Natalie Martinez, David Harbour
End Of Watch stars Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as young Los Angeles police officers Taylor and Zavala as they patrol the city's meanest streets of south central Los Angeles. Giving the story a gripping, first-person immediacy, the action unfolds through footage from the handheld HD cameras of the police officers, gang members, surveillance cameras, and citizens caught in the line of fire to create a riveting portrait of the city's most dangerous corners, the cops who risk their lives there every day, and the price they and their families are forced to pay.
End Of Watch (2012) | Review
This quote, recently used by writer/director David Ayer (Training Day) to summarize his gritty new police drama End of Watch, is a poignant description of the film's vision of local law enforcement. Without question, End of Watch views these courageous men and women as shining stewards of the peace, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.
More specifically, End of Watch tells the story of Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), two LAPD police officers who have formed a powerful brotherhood in their mission to abide by their oath to serve and protect. Whether it's arriving as first responders to a homicide scene or attempting to settle a domestic dispute, Taylor and Zavala are as committed to one another as they are to their roles as keepers of the peace.
However, this film is not only about the challenges of police work in South Central LA. Instead, End of Watch seeks to highlight the humanity of its characters, focusing on the difficult balance between dedication to family relationships and commitment to their jobs.
Ayer addresses this tension when he says, "the film is about two best friends that happen to be police officers. It's just two guys wrestling with life—wives, girlfriends, growing up, having kids—yet they have this incredibly difficult job that raises the stakes in every area of their lives. At the end of the day it's more about... what walking the streets as a patrol officer does to your heart."
With this in mind, what makes End of Watch so unique is that it seeks to create a sense of reality surrounding its characters. Told using the "found footage" format, it was Ayer's intent to develop a "lived-in world for [Gyllenhaal and Pena] to occupy." In other words, unlike other police dramas, this film draws you into Officer Taylor and Zavala's world as an active participant, as opposed to an objective viewer. Yes, this style of film-making puts you right in the center of the action but, more importantly, it also creates an authenticity to these characters that brings them to life. In short, they're human. The inclusion of "home videos" with their spouses (effectively portrayed by Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez) invites us to feel the joy in their lives. Footage of Taylor and Zavala driving in their car establishes their love of one another and reveals their personal struggles at home. Essentially, it is as if we have been allowed to see behind the bravado of the badge and recognize that both Taylor and Zavala are real people as well. As a result of this, End of Watch becomes a life story that you experience, rather than a narrative that you follow.
Thematically, the heart of End of Watch grapples with the challenge of bringing light to an ever-present darkness. Using the police as a metaphor, the film examines the difficulty of fighting for justice in a world that has become consumed by evil. Interestingly enough, in a somewhat refreshing twist for a film of this genre, End of Watch opts not to showcase 'dirty cops' or delve into the corruption of the judicial system. Rather, Officers Taylor and Zavala demonstrate themselves to be honorable men with a genuine desire to help the people of their community. Still, as the film progresses, their understanding of the world begins to be reshaped as they discover the depth of the darkness that boils underneath the surface of their city. Although they remain steadfast in their commitment, one can't help but feel a sense of sadness as their light is increasingly dwarfed by the evil that surrounds them. In a recent interview, Jake Gyllenhaal spoke about this conflict by claiming, "[This experience] was eye-opening for me because I think there is that darkness—and that is a broad term—but that issue [exists]... when you're dealing with any type of violence or general kind of war."
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