Ayer has a particular way of presenting in-your-face crime drama unlike many other writers. Things depicted on the screen aren’t always pretty and that’s the point. The day in the life of a cop is never the same. Each time that uniform is put on, each time you enter that patrol car, presents new challenges. The movie follows Los Angeles Police Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as partners.
You get the sense from watching the film that these two guys are actually partners. Some of that could be credited to the fact that both Gyllenhaal and Peña spent more than 5 months training for the role, including riding alongside officers multiple times during the week. Brian comes across as a know it all; he has a protective guard up a vast majority of the time. He considers himself a playboy, but with all due respect, he isn’t. It’s just who he wants to be. On the other hand, Mike has settled down. He has a wife and a child. For him, going to work each day is a way to provide for his family, which makes things much more tense when violence comes his way.
Officers Taylor and Zavala stumble upon a drug and human trafficking operation run by Mexican cartels. The officers decide to continue digging into the investigation, and soon find themselves the target of the cartels: they have bounties placed on them. The violence is indeed intense, but it’s the realism of the cinematography that is exceptional on the screen.
As a viewer, you are immediately immersed in the picture; you feel as if you’re riding along with the characters. This is thanks to some nifty camera work by Ayer himself, who presents a post apocalyptic view of the region: take out the futuristic visuals. Both Gyllenhaal and Peña deliver sensational performances in the movie. Definitely some of the actors' best work to date. It’s not just their tough-as-nails roles as officers that is amazing; it’s the heartfelt moments as well. Without a clear doubt, the audience knows both characters would take a bullet for the other.
“End of Watch” has an unlikely effect on the viewer. Oftentimes, we’re not appreciative of the fact that officers place their lives on the line day after day to protect us. This movie makes the viewer well aware of that fact. Leaving the theater, I personally wanted to thank any officer I encountered for the work that they do. It’s not an easy task, but they do it on a daily basis, something that most of us would not be able to survive doing just one day.
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