VOD film review: End of Watch
Ivan Radford | On 30, Aug 2013
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Michael Peña, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick
Good cop dramas. Bad cop dramas. So many cop dramas. End of Watch is the latest to add to the pile. But if you’re sick of cop dramas, good news: this one goes straight to the top.
Taylor and Mike are partners on the LAPD. They only take on the most exciting jobs, with the fastest car chases or biggest guns. Are they good cops or bad cops? That’s where End of Watch hits the mark. While most police flicks would leave it there, David Ayer develops the duo – they’re more than just a badge.
They have partners, families, morals and – most important of all – each other. And Ayer takes the time to introduce them all, happy just to sit in the back seat and watch the couple squabble on their patrol.
It’s a buddy movie as much as an action movie, but not just between the guys; the girls are given a look in as well. Mike’s wife gives as good as she gets, while Anna Kendrick has the screen all to herself when she records a sweet message on Taylor’s video camera.
That’s where End of Watch misses the mark. Ayer opts for handheld visuals, plastering the car, the guns, even the cast, with cameras. It’s a visceral style, sure, although probably unnecessary – the story’s intense enough without it. But what irks is the way it’s incorporated into the plot. Taylor has a video camera, so we see lots of shots from his perspective, but that logic makes you question all the other shaky shots. Whose camera is it now?
Whenever that takes you out of the story, though, Ayer’s cast draws you back in. Everyone – every single person – is on top form, with Gyllenhaal and Peña giving their policemen a depth so rarely seen on screen. And that engaging chemistry makes the final climax all the more shocking – but even when bullets start flying, End of Watch gladly rewinds, just to spend another 10 minutes with its leads. This is not a good cop or bad cop movie. It’s just a really, really, really good cop movie.