Hand-held point-of-view cameras capture the mundanity of daily life for two young cops in Los Angeles where even the most seemingly innocuous call can lead to a house of horror.
Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) break the routine by filming one another – and the people they happen across – as they tour their beat.
There’s a fire and a rescue of children. They find noisy kids gaffer-taped in a closet. A house full of emaciated people. A cellar full of death. And in amongst all of this madness Taylor and Zavala draw the murderous attention of a drugs cartel. “You just tugged on the tail of a snake,” warns a special agent. From then on life becomes a lot more complicated.
A buddy movie in which the Riggs/Murtaugh double-act is replaced by hard-nosed policing and a stark reality check, End of Watch is at times a remarkable portrait of comradeship. Gyllenhaal and Peña enjoy a genuine chemistry as they tour the mean streets of the City of Angels. It might resemble a video game but this is deadly stuff. No superheroes here.
Writer/director David Ayer has enjoyed a respectable track record as the creator of a string of intelligent cop-orientated movies that have included Training Day, Dark Blue, Street Kings and Harsh Times. End of Watch is the latest in this series and it shows the evolution of his theme. It enjoys a plausibility that so many other over-cooked, high-octane, loud and flashy flicks fail to deliver.