End of Watch
Paying all the necessary homage to David Simon’s seminal Homicide, End of Watch grabs dynamic duo Jake Gyllenhaal and the criminally underrated Michael Peña to patrol the streets of South Central, Los Angeles.
The Wire left a massive hole in Police drama. One unlikely to be filled any time soon, which leaves anything getting anywhere near it suffering in comparison. End of Watch nods knowingly at David Simon’s politically inhibited Police Force and you get the feeling it would like to go further, but with just under two hours in which to work, the subtle social pressures affecting major law enforcement decisions are hinted at but understandably under-developed.
End of Watch’s writer and director David Ayer is famous of course for penning the seminal Training Day, which expanded upon the whispered about levels of detachment and ruthlessness within the LAPD, uses stars Jake Gyllenhaal [Brian] and Michael Peña [Mike] in a very different way. One former Navy man [Gyllenhall] and one former ruffian turned devoted husband from the poor side of town [Peña] both dedicated equals under the badge, with no other agenda than to be the best crime-fighting duo they can be. The removal of any potential corruption allows for the bantering partnership to build on their instant chemistry through Mike’s handycam film project, which, while vague in concept, allows for an engaging, raw and surprisingly enduring new view of a $10,000,000 cop-drama.
Aided by the picturesque, even at its worst, sun drenched streets of Los Angeles, End of Watch encourages outstanding performances from its two leads, but struggles to make the most of obviously well positioned supporting stars. With all the best intentions, our team’s nemesis, a local Mexican-American gang lack subtlety or any endearing charm. Developed back-stories are hinted at with lesbian female gang-leader La La having a childhood relationship [of some kind] with America Ferrera’s Officer Ororzco, an arc that ultimately comes to nothing. David Harbour’s prickly elder statesman of the LAPD; Van Hauser was talked of as a great beat-cop, screwed by the powers that be, but finds himself written out in incredibly gory fashion before his character is expanded into anything meaningful to the plot of the film.
Occasionally feeling like the first episode of a The Wire meets Training Day TV drama, End of Watch only struggles within the constraints of Hollywood and is written so carefully and shot in such an original and high-energy fashion that it feels a genuine shame that it wasn’t serialised for HBO.
End Of Watch will be released in UK on 23 November 2012.