End Of Watch Blu-ray Review
END OF WATCH follows Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Peña), two young ambitious cops who patrol in highly dangerous South Central Los Angeles. The story is really about these two partners and friends as they encounter some brutal experiences as an every day product of their job. They are heroic yet human as they attempt the balance of family and their life threatening duty.
Director David Ayer grew up in South Central L.A., which provides a major source for his material including screenplays for TRAINING DAY, DARK BLUE and S.W.A.T. Directing only two films previously in HARSH TIMES and STREET KINGS, the man clearly is extremely interested in law enforcement as well.
END OF WATCH takes a different approach by following our leads with a hand held found footage style in shooting, like so many movies have adapted. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, CLOVERFIELD and last year’s CHRONICLE being among the most effective. Early on, we learn Officer Taylor is also an aspiring filmmaker, which is included as a brief explanation why he sometimes carries a hand held camera and why the two partners wear hidden cameras at badge eye level. However, Ayer doesn’t fully commit to this technique by jumping around to other point of views that aren’t from a camera within the action.
Regardless of the crude explanation and the inconsistent manner in which the film is shot, END OF WATCH is still quite compelling. By putting us right into the action, the audience is able to feel the mystery and danger more closely. Many times throughout the film, the tension had a tight grip around me and my anticipation became quite unbearable. Although, this is not a film you want to sit too close to, as the shaky dizziness could cause nausea.
But I think the biggest success to the film are the two lead actor’s portrayal of their very real characters. Somewhere between cocky and confident, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña deliver a natural chemistry as eager cops who react on instinct. Their banter on patrol reveals insecurities and desires. Both characters are rich with identity that we get to know more deeply over the roughly year span the film takes place. Officer Zavala has a wife with child who he has known and loved since high school. Officer Taylor is a single man who is finally looking into settling down with a new girlfriend played by Anna Kendrick. Through these life events, we see how meaningful the two partners friendship is and their trust and loyalty goes much deeper than most could ever understand. The police force is their second family.
The action toward the end is quite nerve racking and thrilling but also left a few gaps in reason. An obvious getaway car is sloppily overlooked in favor to move our characters in a specific direction. Despite some notable flaws, I found the film worthy of a recommendation. If one is able to bypass the distractions from inconsistent camera angles, the story and technique will provide a fascinating and entertaining ride. As a character study, END OF WATCH succeeds greatly, due mostly to the fantastic performance and chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.
Video: (1080p 1.85:1) An excellent looking picture. Despite the eratic hand held constant point of view shot, the film is clear and focused.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) An excellent sound as well utilizing the surround.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director David Ayer: A deeply insightful commentary. Ayer goes into a lot of detail explaining his choices for END OF WATCH.
Deleted Scenes (46:41): Seventeen deleted, extended and alternate scenes that at a lot of depth to the characters and film. Although interesting, most of these were rightfully cut to maintain focus and proper pacing. However, I think a few of these would have been OK to keep in the final cut.
Featurettes (10:59): Five very short fluff featurettes about 2 minutes each that offer nothing of much substance – “Fate with a Badge,” “In the Streets,” “Women on Watch,” “Watch Your Six” and “Honors.”