Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena and Anna Kendrick
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Director David Ayer gives this film a unique look that is not too commonly seen in the cop genre. I have personally never seen a cop film presented in this way. However, while the execution of this film’s visual style may be relatively original, what it is constructed of is not. This film’s visual style is essentially an amalgamation of Cops, Bourne, first person shooters, Tony Scott and found footage films. This shooting style is initially rather overdone, leading me to think that it would reveal itself to be an annoying gimmick. However as the film progresses, Ayer seems to strike a balance with his approach. Resulting in some of the year’s most intense scenes, which will be vomit inducing for the right reasons.
There are moments within End of Watch that are incredibly gritty and tense. With the sound and cinematography in certain scenes making you feel as if you are right in the middle of the action. This gritty realism of the presentation is complemented by the realism of the dialogue and performances. While, just like the film’s visual presentation, it initially seemed (And at times was) overdone, for the majority of the film I felt like I was watching real people have real conversations. The heart and soul of the film however, is the relationship between the characters of Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena.
The camaraderie between these two is relatable and endearing; with you believing that they have been on the beat together for years. Some of my favourite scenes in the film are the frank, honest and emotional conversations that these two have while roaming the streets of L.A. This film’s humour and heart stems directly from their performances and they carry this film. David Ayer’s elected shooting style certainly gives this film a stylistic presence, however it is the performances of Gyllenhaal and Pena that will make this film stand out and what people will remember.
Anna Kendrick is as charming as ever in her supporting role, however the relationship between her and Gyllenhaal’s character is very rushed and underdeveloped. We never truly get to see their relationship blossom and it appears to go from one to ten in the space of a few scenes. This leads to one of my main problems with the film, my emotional detachment. There are moments in this film, which should have emotionally impacted me way more than they did. While I may be an outlier here, like Brave, there were scenes which were effectively performed and written, yet the lack of emotional investment prior to that made them devoid of feeling for me. Considering what happens at the end of this film (Steering around spoilers here) and how much time I had spent with these characters prior to that, the fact that I didn’t feel more is near unforgivable, however as I said, that could just be a problem with me rather than the film. However given the fact that I was moved by The Sessions, I’d like to think that I’m not a robot.
While I’m on the ending, without giving anything away, it was very problematic for me. This is a film, which goes on ten or so minutes longer than it needs to. It looked set to end on a very dark, bleak yet gutsy note, however proceeds to contradict that and in my opinion, ruins it. It seemed as if a test audience had come and said, “We don’t like that, we want to see this and then have this happen” It seemed very much like a compromise cut and a cop-out.
Structurally this film is very episodic. Similar to The Hurt Locker, which went from bomb to bomb in a handheld shooting style, End of Watch goes from incident to incident in a handheld shooting style. This episodic nature too frequently flirted with aimlessness, as there isn’t a clear direction of where exactly things are going. I’m not somebody who needs to know where a film is going to enjoy it, in fact I love it when I don’t, however when there is no clear narrative focus or drive, it does slightly detract from the experience. The film’s pacing was also rather spluttering for me, with there being slight lulls and moments which dragged, followed by an incredibly intense scene and then back to a lull. With a running time of just under two hours, due to its episodic nature and erratic pace, it felt longer than it was.
Ultimately End of Watch is a film, which is uniquely presented in relation to its genre and very well performed, with moments of intense, gritty and horrific realism. However this realism is sometimes contradicted by lapses into silliness and over-enthusiasm. The structure is episodic and the pace inconsistent, which coupled with my lack of emotional investment, led to a viewing experience which was not as thrilling for me as it appears to have been for others. It is a good film, which was perhaps an edit and/or a re-write away from being a great film.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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