• James Rutherford

‘End of Watch’: A Deeply Compelling Portraiture of Friendship, Camaraderie and Dedication


Movie poster for the film End of Watch starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña

“End of Watch” (2012) is a deeply emotive action thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, partners in the Los Angeles Police Department. Assigned to the Newton Division of South Central L.A., Brian and Mike share a close friendship developed over multiple years of working the crime-infested streets together.


A law student on the side, Brian records their daily activities and interactions on camera as part of a film project for school—giving the film a documentary-like style that lends a striking air of immediacy to the proceedings. As the two officers fulfill their duties and capture the various highs and lows of day-to-day law enforcement, they ultimately stumble upon a gruesome crime scene inside an abandoned house—their unwanton incursion eliciting dire recrimination from local members of the Sinaloa Cartel.


Written and directed by David Ayer, who specializes in gritty police dramas including “Training Day” and “Harsh Times”, “End of Watch” is a refreshing twist on the genre, focusing far more intently on the solidarity between the two leads in lieu of exhausted corruption melodramatics. Their heartfelt fellowship lays the groundwork for an emotionally-charged thriller that delivers a potent mixture of playful histrionics, high-grade action and resounding compassion in a manner that few films can even approximate.

 

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