Sunday, March 3, 2013
To Live and Die in LA: End of Watch
Movie Review: End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Reviewed: 3 March 2013
Chemistry in a film is a quality that is difficult to define and quantify. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena have it. They play two LAPD officers, patrolling the mean streets of South Central, risking their lives and busting gang members. Gyllenhaal's Brian Taylor is brash and confident and wields a movie camera, documenting his experiences. Pena's Mike Zavala is his partner, and the two are like brothers, caught up in the adrenaline-rush, high-wire act that is their day-to-day existence.
The film is talky and laugh-out-loud funny. And slow. It takes its time and does not immediately reveal where it is going. In the film, Ayer almost apologetically gets the plot rolling about sixty minutes into the film after we have seen multiple scene after scene of Pena and Gyllenhaal joking and laughing, rescuing children from burning buildings, viewing horrific crimes, and crossing the cartel. There is a gang member with a spooky name (Big Evil) who carefully plans a horrific gun battle with the cops. There are tangential female characters that are given short shrift. The film veers off the rails by the end, becoming maudlin and nonsensical, completing shifting in tone.
But, it is funny. And violent. And scary. And I recommend it. On the strength of Pena and Gyllenhaal's chemistry in a squad car together, I recommend it. Not a perfect movie. But, what a ride.