One of the great surprises of late. I was expecting a generic cop buddy flick within the action spectrum and instead received this authentic, humanistic and well told tale of brotherhood and friendship. Refreshingly a LAPD story not about corruption or abuse of power but a story of men putting themselves in harms way daily for various reasons. Pena and Gyllenhaal have a real chemistry here and that bond is evident.
The opening monologue and chase sequence set the tone and style of the film. This is the best thing Ayer has done since Training Day. The handheld and pov style of shooting really added a lot to the tense vibe of the film. Anna Kendrick is cute as can be and the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pena is perfect and comedic. It is obvious the actors spent a lot of time with real officers in preparation for their roles.
Ayer's white-Hispanic interactions are getting more convincing, perhaps because he is writing more lived-in dialogue. But Ayer doesn't do lived-in as sharply as angles and mistrust, so this ends up feeling a bit aimless. Would two close partners entertain each other nonstop like this? Probably not. Do they need to drop mucho backstory for the tearjerker ending to work? Most definitely. Solid cast, though.
What struck me from the first frame of "End of Watch" was its inherent realism. At times I almost forgot I was watching a fictional film because of the believable acting, the 'dashboard cam' setups of the cop cars, and yes, the shootouts which put the viewer right into the action. It works *because* it is graphic, whereas other films might not quite reach that pinnacle. It is a story that needs to be told and heard.
Watchable as a straightforward cop buddy movie once you overcome the intial conceit that even the bad guys seem to be happy to film their (mis)deeds, but it is very hamfisted when it tries to tie the exploits of its main characters to larger organised crime. In addition, the villains are very one-dimensional, and make the film hard to take seriously. (But at least there's some Mazzy Star in there!)