Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘End of Watch’ leaves viewers satisfied

By Cory J. Willey

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“End of Watch” is much more than your average buddy-cop film, distinguishing itself from others with its gritty action and excellent use of the “shaky cam” effect.

The film follows Officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, respectively) on their patrols through gang-ridden South Central Los Angeles.

The film opens with a monologue from Officer Taylor that sets the tone for the events to come. He states, “Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love, and yes, I can be killed. And although I am but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who would die for me and I for them. We stand watch together. I am fate with a badge and a gun. The thin-blue-line, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police.”

Indeed, the two protagonists live up to this bold claim.

We quickly see the two as a couple of up-and-comers who devoutly believe in the upholding of the justice system and with this enthusiasm they start to make a name for themselves in the struggle against the gangs in the area.

After pulling over a suspicious driver they catch a lucky break and discover the man has a tie to the Mexican drug cartel. They follow up on the lead and end up causing enough trouble to catch the attention of the cartel, which marks them for death.

This film utilizes a point-of-view camera style, which is explained to us as a project being done by Officer Taylor for a film class he is taking on the side. He carries a camera around with him and attaches a smaller camera to his and his partner’s uniforms.

Writer/director David Ayer mixes shots from these cameras and separate “shaky cam” shots that successfully create the feeling that we as the audience are right there in the thick of things with the two officers.

The only questionable decision here is that in some scenes depicting the gangs you can see one of the gang members holding their own cameras. Unless these gang members are in the same film class as Officer Taylor there is no reason for a gang to document its own illegal activities. It is a confusing moment for viewers.

The film’s strongest point comes in the form of the interactions between Taylor and Zavala, a credit that should be equally given to Gyllenhaal, Pena and Ayer. You truly believe that Zavala and Taylor came up through the academy together and would take a bullet for each other. The dialogue between the two is surprisingly funny at some points and touching and heartfelt at others.

By the end of the film you feel as though you were right there with them all of those years, which makes watching the bullets fly around them during the action sequences that much more nerve racking to watch. Gyllenhaal and Pena play off of each other incredibly well, delivering a very believable performance.

Using the POV camera to its advantage is what gives the film its gritty quality, hurling the audience into the violence on the streets of Los Angeles.

While it does have its flaws (for example, inaccurate portrayal of gang members), it is an action fan’s film. It creates an incredibly real and enjoyable experience as well as presenting two well fleshed out and memorable characters that will certainly leave audiences satisfied with the film.

Corey Willey can be reached at [email protected]

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