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I had to watch this one to the end!
End Of Watch (Blu-ray)
Member Name: Jojoborne
End Of Watch (Blu-ray)
Date: 10/02/13, updated on 10/02/13 (74 review reads)
Advantages: Superb acting. Realistic. Great direction. Rollercoaster ride of emotions.
Disadvantages: None for me.
End of Watch
Every so often and yet not often enough, a movie comes along that rocks me to the core. 'End of Watch' is one of those movies. I thought this movie was fantastically made, brilliantly directed and superbly acted. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, I cared about the characters, I wanted to know what the outcome would be, I laughed, I gasped, I cried and was left with nothing but sheer admiration for everyone involved with this production.
The Movie was written and directed by David Ayers who you may or may not know as the director of 'Harsh Times' starring Christian Bale and the screenwriter for 'Training Day' with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke amongst other works.
The two principal characters in the movie are played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena.
I have quite a lot to say about all three of the aforementioned people for their work on this movie and my thoughts on the movie in general, but first let's take a look at the storyline.
The movie centres on Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), who are close friends and partners in the Los Angeles Police Department. Taylor is filming their police activities for a film project he's working on. After shooting two suspects following a high speed chase they are placed on suspension and return to work after they are cleared of any wrong doings. After staking out a house of a known drug user they follow and then pull over the man in a 4x4, who was seen taking a metal pot from a woman. As Zavala approaches the driver's window to make contact, the driver suddenly draws a gun and fires. After arresting the driver, Taylor removes the pot from the 4x4, and kicks it over, thus removing the lid. He finds an ornately-decorated .45 Colt automatic pistol, and a gold-plated AK-47 rifle, along with a large amount of money. They find out that the money and firearms are connected to a Mexican drug cartel operating in the notorious South Central area. A convict who they are familiar with and had a run in with earlier tells them that they have been marked for death. They don't really take this threat too seriously as all villains want to kill the LAPD in South Central.
Taylor has just got married and Zavala's wife has just given birth and now something will go down that will change both of their futures forever in a fast paced, emotionally charged drama that will have any discerning member of the public gripping the edge of their seat.
I can't say enough about this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and everyone involved with it should be proud of what they have created. It is gritty, hard-edged, poignant, relevant, uncomfortable, frightening, shocking, disturbing, enlightening, pulsating and above all engrossing.
Seeing as one of my best friends is a fire-fighter and his wife a police officer, this movie makes me appreciate how unpredictable and difficult their jobs are, not that I didn't know that already. I know that comparing South Central to the Midlands in the UK is stretching it a little but in these harsh times (apologies to David Ayers) in doesn't matter what area in the world you are policing, it is a dangerous job. I think we should all doff our caps to police officers and fire-fighters around the world as they all risk their lives to keep us safe every day, sadly at times with very little credit.
My Thoughts on The Actors and Their Roles in the Movie
I want to talk about the actors first because I was totally blown away by the performances of Gyllenhaal and Pena as well as the entire support cast. The two lead performances are some of the most realistic acting I have seen for a while and this stems from the fact that these guys did their homework and then some. It also has a lot to do with the fact that they are both superb actors. The realistic tone to the movie is also due in part to Gyllenhaal's character Brian Taylor carrying a video camera with him to film his working day with his partner for a project he is working on. Normally with this type of cam related movie you get a very disjointed feel and can never really get close to the characters. It is totally the opposite with this movie and the viewer really gets to look at the relationship that this two LAPD cops have developed as both friends and work colleagues. The first person cam is not over-used either and the film is mostly shot in the regular way. What the Taylor's camera does do is make you feel like you are actually on the job with them and this is exactly what the director intended.
Jake Gyllenhaal has always appealed to me both as an actor and as a person. If you have ever seen him interviewed he comes across as a really grounded guy who is likeable and normal. His acting performances have gone from strength to strength, although I cannot really comment on the 'Prince of Persia' effort as I have not seen that movie. End of Watch however, for me, is his best acting performance to date. I believed him to be Brian Taylor. I believed he was a police officer in South Central. I started out thinking Taylor was a bit cocky but realised that he was a decent guy putting on a little front but having to genuinely man up due to the nature of his job. It could've gone either way and his character could've turned out nasty but I ended up warming to him and quite liked him through the movie. To prepare for his role as a tough LAPD cop, Gyllenhaal spent five months working with actual police officers in South Central. Both he and his co-star Michael Pena would go out on patrols for twelve hour shifts, three times a week for the five month duration. Is it any wonder then that they play the roles so realistically? Gyllenhaal witnessed a murder on his very first ride-along with officers, so he was plunged in at the deep end from day one. I can imagine that was a shocking situation to be involved in and would not have liked to have been witness to it myself. Taylor is a bit of a lost soul in the movie and struggles to hold down a relationship with a woman as he finds it hard to attach any emotion to anything after what he witnesses and copes with day in and day out on the job; that all changes when he meets Janet (Anna Kendrick) and we see a different side to his character. Gyllenhaal has that ability to change from dead-pan to serious at the drop of a hat and we see that coming through in Taylor's character. I can imagine that he and Pena had so many laughs while filming this movie and at the same time it must have been harsh at times and they probably needed time-out to collect themselves every now and then. I think Jake Gyllenhaal deserves major credit and huge plaudits for his role in this movie. He is a fine actor and I for one am a fan.
Michael Pena has always struck me as one of those actors who quietly plies his trade but when you think about the roles he has played you are surprised by how many memorable moments you remember. For me it is the scene with his daughter and his role in the movie 'Crash' and his brilliant performance in 'Twin Towers' that I remember him most for. End of Watch sees him step it up yet another notch and I can safely say that this guy is a superb actor. The way he plays off Gyllenhaal, you would think these guys had been acting on screen together for twenty-five years. It really is a solid performance. There are some funny scenes when they tease and cajole each other about their white and Espanic backgrounds but the key to their chemistry comes in the silences in the patrol car when they are on the way to a crime scene. Mike Savala is a grounded guy with a good sense of humour. He's a family man and married his childhood sweetheart. His wife, Gabby (Natalie Martinez) has a baby in the movie and the scenes are believable and well-acted out. You can also tell by the relaxed approach to the subject matter at times that many of the lines between Pena and Gyllenhaal are adlibbed and this also adds further to the realism of the movie. I wouldn't like to pick between the two as I think they are both excellent but Pena may just about edge it over Gyllenhaal but only by the merest of margins if at all.
Anna Kendrick plays Janet, the sweet girlfriend of Brian Taylor. She plays the role really well and again is believable in the role. Most of the ladies reading this review will probably know her as Jessica Stanley from the 'Twilight' movies. Janet seems good for Taylor in the movie and you want it to work out for them.
Natalie Martinez plays Gabby Savala, who is married to Mike Savala. Natalie plays the off the cuff wife really well in that she appears relaxed about the whole thing but you can see that her strength is there for her husband in that she does not want to panic him or worry him more by seeing that she is worried as he has enough to deal with on the job in the first place. She is his rock and Natalie Martinez plays another believable role in the movie.
America Ferrera plays female officer Orozco. She and her partner, Officer Davis (Cody Horn) often come into contact with Taylor and Savala and she plays an important role in the movie at the end. Her role really does make you feel what it must be like to be a female officer in South Central and again it is another fine performance from one of the supporting cast. You may know America from the two 'Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants' movies.
Frank Grillo plays Sarge, Taylor and Savala's duty Sergeant. His best scene comes while talking to some trainees while drunk and inadvertently revealing his regrets and misgivings about the job. He pops up from time to time in the movie and you get the impression that he thinks Taylor and Savala are goofs that need to grow up but at the same time he knows that they are good cops who would put themselves on the line for their team.
There are many supporting actors playing gang members of both black and Espanic descent in the movie and they all put in totally realistic performances. Notable mentions should go to Diamonique, who plays 'Wicked'. I found myself swearing at her at the end of the movie. I swore even more at Yahira Garcia who plays 'La La'. She plays this vile creature so realistically they you really do hate her and that can only speak volumes for her acting. A massive mention has to go to Cle Sloan who plays Mr.Tre. Sloan was an ex prisoner and gang member who actually tried to stop gang violence by talking to his 'Blood' gang members. He has appeared in director Ayers other works, most notably 'Street Kings' alongside Forrest Whittaker and Keanu Reeves' He runs a group called 'AKTIVE', which is a non-profit organisation that talks to young gang members in the bid to steer them away from a life of crime and violence. He plays the part of Mr.Tre really well and has a memorable fight scene with Michael Pena's character, which is quite full on and brutal. Maurice Compte also deserves a mention as the leader of the Mexican Cartel, 'Big Evil'.
All the actors in this movie fit in well and do a good job; from the top two actors right the way through to the walk-ons and extras, the whole thing is edited and polished off nicely with both confident and realistic characters.
The Director and the Making of End of Watch
Director and writer of End of Watch, David Ayer came up with the idea and wrote the script in less than a week. It is reported that Jake Gyllenhaal was sent the script and read it in an hour before calling Ayers and telling him that he wanted to do it. I'm glad that Ayers agreed.
The thing that strikes me about the movie is that it gels without ever seeming to be structured. What I mean by that is that it obviously is structured through the writing process but you can see that Ayers has used hours and hours of footage and edited the final piece to the footage used. This gives the movie that documentary type feel, especially with that added element of Taylor filming himself and his partner. This does not take away the fact that the craftsmanship is there for all to see. It is an astonishingly well put together movie and it exudes boldness without trying to be too clever.
The title itself 'End of Watch' comes from the real life tag that police officers use for cops who are killed on the job. There is a famous book entitled 'End of Watch: Chicago Police Killed in Line of Duty 1853-2006' that encapsulates this whole grisly circumstance. The book was written by Edward M Burke and Thomas J. O'Gorman and I am not sure how much of an influence it had on Ayers script or whether he did indeed take his idea from it. The book contains stories of 526 law officers from Chicago who died in the line of duty, including photographs and the circumstances in which they were killed. So that leads you to the question 'So they die in the movie?' Well, do they both die? Do they both live? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.
I like the way the opening shot is filmed from the drivers prospective of a police car as it chases a criminal in another vehicle. Jake Gyllenhaal narrates over this scene and it starts the film off with a bang. It also opens the way for the cam shots that are to come. I thought at first that I may be put off by the first-person cam view but to be honest it isn't used too much in the movie and when it is it is used well and is not off-putting in the least.
Ayer took hours of film footage to the editing room and it was a huge job to piece it all together. I think he did a fantastic job. Overall it took him thirteen months from writing the script, through transition to completion. That is not bad considering the subject matter and the things that an LAPD cop in South central goes through in any single day.
The movie is shot in colour but contains black and white scenes too due to the cam footage. The cinematographer on the movie was Roman Vasyanov and this was his most high profile film to date. He does a good job as everything seems to blend together and some of the shots as they travel along in the patrol car with the sun setting and the street lights dazzling are really effective.
The original score was provided and performed by David Sardy who has produced the scores for '21', 'The Green Hornet', 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' and 'Wanted'. It fits in with the grittiness of the film and plays well off some of the music tracks from the soundtrack.
The movie was made on a budget of seven million dollars, which is not an awful lot by today's standards. I am pleased to say that it doubled that on its opening weekend and has grossed almost forty million to date and that is not including ant sales of the forthcoming DVD and Blue Ray. So in terms of commerciality, the movie can be deemed a success.David Ayers is known for his movies about the police and this is the flavour of his movies 'Harsh Times', 'Training Day' (script writer) and 'Street Kings'. I liked Harsh Times, thought Training day was brilliant but sadly didn't like Street Kings. End of Watch is by far his best movie for me and after Street Kings has put him back on the map.
Ayers Produced the movie too and Jake Gyllenhaal liked the project so much that he executive Produced and effectively put his money where his mouth was along with Ayers.
I would recommend this movie to anyone and I will freely admit that some people will not be able to look past the violence, gang related scenes and swearing but all I can say to that is each to their own and it is a shame because you are missing a cinematic treat and a master class in acting and a realistic portrayal of some of the bravest men and woman alive today. I apologise to all the cult fans of the original 'Precinct 13' movie but I think End of Watch is the best cop movie ever made. End of watch for me is a triumph and I give it five out of five stars.
Blue Ray gives the usual option of watching in high definition and high resolution sound as well as the digital version and the ULtraViolet option which allows viewers to watch their movies and TV shows in the Ultraviolet cloud. This lets consumers instantly stream and download to tablets, smartphones, computers and TVs. It will soon be available worldwide and and the time of this release was only available in the US and Canada.
The DVD extras include: The making of documentaries 'Fate with a Badge', 'In the Streets', 'Women on Watch', 'Watch Your Six' and 'Honors'.
Deleted Scenes and a feature Commentary with Writer and Director David Ayer are also included.
You can pick the this item up for between ten and sixteen pounds. The current Amazion price is sixteen pounds and nine pence.
© Lee Billingham. Also on Ciao and may appear on other sites.
Summary: Two Los Angeles cops take us for a ride through as one films their daily routine via his camcorder.