TIFF Film Review: End of Watch

Year: 2012
Director: David Ayer

The 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival kicked off with a lot of great films this year, and End of Watch was no exception. At the top of the cast list, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena both deliver dynamic performances in their roles as two LA cops with a brotherly bond. They play off each other so well that it almost felt like they knew each other for a long time.

This is not your ordinary cop drama. It showcases footage that the cast shot and the movie is based around the day in the life of a police officer. Ayer brilliantly conveys the real life drama that cops face on a daily basis by having the characters in the film videotape each other on camera. His film   looks organic with the shaky camera angles and offset filming. Some may be thrown up a bit by the spontaneity of the filmmaker but it actually makes the movie more realistic and interesting to watch.

End of Watch follows the story of two close friends, Brian (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Pena), who are both police officers for the LAPD in Los Angeles, California. They work together, laugh together and even solve crimes together. They’re like the Vincent and Jules of Pulp Fiction (1994), minus the drugs and booze. Moreover, they have a real connection that’s rare to find these days. When Brian decides to date a new girl named Janet (Anna Kendrick), he wonders if she and her parents can accept his lifestyle as a cop. Although he really likes Janet, he doesn’t think he can live up to her expectations and give her a normal life. However, Zavala is happily married with Gabby (Natalie Martinez) and the two are even thinking of starting a family. Even though they both realize that living as a cop is not easy, they still make time for their loved ones and fight to bring justice to society.

Although there are some rather gruesome and disturbing scenes in the movie, it’s understandable because the movie revolves a lot around gangs, violence and drugs. At one point, the two police buddies go on a shooting rampage with four gang members, who are equipped with heavy machinery and they go face-to-face with the criminals on an empty LA street. That scene and montage in the end is packed with action, drama and suspense.

This whole film is like an organic experience of what it is like in the shoes of two police officers who go on the hunt for the bad guys. They risk their lives, leave their loved ones behind and go on the streets to do justice. They both go through an emotional roller coaster with some ups and downs along the way. The biggest draw for some may be the romance between Brian and Janet, as Gyllenhaal and Kendrick share some seriously steamy chemistry with each other. They portray a young couple in love but who constantly have to deal with the pressure of Brian’s profession as a cop. His job puts a toll on their relationship but it teaches us about what it is like to date a cop and how the women’s (in the film) lives change when they are married to two police officers.

The standout performance in the film has to go to Martinez, however, as she plays a charismatic and charming young lady who is the love of Zavala’s life and is the life of the party with her classic one-liners and quirky personality. Even if you are not a fan of cop dramas, you should definitely check this movie out for its hilarious dialogue and funny bits and parts.

End of Watch hits theatres nationwide on September 21st, 2012 so go and get your tickets!

Photo by Irina Iriser via Pexels