Sunday, 17 February 2013
End Of Watch (2012)
End Of Watch is something you don't see too much of these days. It's a cop movie that's very much grounded in reality. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are Brian and Mike, two average LAPD cops who are assigned to a particularly crime ridden latin area of South Central LA. They aren't dirty cops who are willing to get their hands all sort of dirty to get the job done. They aren't two beat cops who take on the sort of job where after five minutes any real cop would call in the FBI. They most certainly aren't typical action heroes who gun down endless waves of street thugs while remaining untouched themselves. What they are is two regular cops who find themselves in a few extraordinary situations and react pretty much as you'd expect any normal person to do, and that's refreshing.
The way End of Watch is told is interesting. Brian is one of those cops who wants to move on to be a lawyer so is studying pre-law, and because of the strange way american further education works, he needs an art credit and decides to film his work. Outfitting the car, Brian and his partner Mike with a bunch of cameras gives the film a real sense of energy when the action kicks off and really does throw you into the middle of the chaos. The first person viewpoints and the dash cams and the pieces to camera give End of Watch the feel of those traffic cop shows you see on channels like Dave at 3am or on Bravo at any given time. If I could describe EoW in one sentence it'd be: Imagine the best episode of COPS you can and put it in the hands of a real film-maker.
Thankfully, the entire film isn't shown through Gyllenhaal's handicams, so this isn't another shaky-cam, found-footage film, but the use of first person really does give it that reality-documentary feel that grounds the film. In a one-two-punch style, the cinematography works hand in hand with the two leads to make the film feel real. Brian and Mike are proper,( generally) by the book cops. They might stray from procedure slightly from time to time, but they're not a pair of Dirty Harry's. We meet the two after they've been partners for years, so there's none of the usual "Oh they're such opposites! They'll have to overcome their differences and learn to work together!" bullshit you get with this sort of story. These two guys are great friends and know how to do their job together. It's really sold in the banter the two share in the car, along with the more serious side dealing with their respective families (which, even when we meet them at the start, are pretty much one big family already).
I went into End of Watch expecting a stereotypical tale of two everyday LAPD cops taking on an entire drug cartel single handedly and coming out on top completely unscathed. What I got was a visceral and grounded story about two best friends and colleagues who find themselves involved with some really heavy, but believable, events at work that escalates into a brilliant and emotional climax that'll leave you reeling.