On Tuesday afternoon I got a last minute invite to a very, very advanced screening of “End of Watch” – a South LA cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, written and directed by David Ayer. I have been following this film since casting was announced and filming was underway, so when I found out I could see it five months in advance to it’s release I jumped at the opportunity. It did a lot more than just make me laugh and cry, so I’m definitely in!
The original format for “End of Watch” was to be shot from first-person only via handheld, dashboard, and mini clip-on cameras used by the LAPD officers, cartel criminals, and civilians involved in the film. It has since been made a combination of first and third person shots meaning they tied all of the handheld/dashboard/etc. camera’s into shots by an external cameraman, and I have to say that the film itself felt so authentic and so much like an actual documentary that you do not even notice when they are being viewed from an external point. Each and every shot of this film was beautifully raw.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Officer Brian Taylor while Michael Pena plays his partner Officer Mike Zavala (“Z”), and the first 30 or so minutes of the film are spent introducing us to them. We learn that they are the hot shots of their department instantly, but we quickly learn that as much as they are kick ass cops they also have some stereotypical power trips from time to time. However, these power trips are not dangerous enough to make them the bad guys and instead gain them even more respect not only in the film but also by the audience. We quickly learn about their conflicts both inside their police department and also with the criminals they are already familiar with. As their story continues to unfold and begins to focus on a consistent issue they keep encountering with a particular cartel/gang, we are introduced to their personal lives as well. Officer Zavala (Pena) is married to his high school sweetheart played by Natalie Martinez with a child on the way, and Officer Taylor (Gyllenhaal) has just started dating Janet, played by Anna Kendrick. Though their personal lives are not a primary focus of the film, enough attention is paid to them in order to help provide an equal balance between their cop mentalities and their family mentalities. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that has perfectly captured a balance quite like David Ayer does in “End of Watch“.
I am so happy to have a trailer to share with you so you can get a feel for the film, especially since I can’t seem to find enough words to describe how amazing it was. Expect lots of updates about “End of Watch” as I am now emotionally attached and invested in it’s success!