Directed by:David Ayer
Writer/director David Ayer (S.W.A.T., Training Day, Street Kings, Harsh Times) was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and seems committed to a film career that never strays from it. He’s to L.A. what Charles Dickens was to London, documenting his hometown’s reputation in all its pulsating beauty and degradation. Do his efforts make the city’s drug, racism and violence ills seem intractable? Will Angelinos cringe at this, his latest examination of policing the seamier side of the City of Angels?
Jake Gyllenhaal & Michael Peña play Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, street cops assigned to a multi-ethnic precinct teeming with low-lifes, uncooperative citizens and drug dealers benefiting from the city’s proximity to the U.S./Mexican border. When Taylor & Zavala’s hard work and street–level knowledge of their beat begin to impinge on the flow of criminal activity there, they become targets for the low-level thugs employed by the cartels, making Brian & Mike subject to the same kind of violence they’re often forced to dish out to others.
This skeletal storyline serves as Ayer’s vehicle to present a highly detailed examination of the typical work day of police men and women. Gripes with superiors, studied detachment from the frequently horrible instances of human degradation they’re forced to deal with and nourishing an intense, highly profane camaraderie that flows from the nature of their work, Brian and Mike simply refer to each other as “brothers”. By the final reel, audiences will come to appreciate the accuracy of that term.
Thanks to Ayer’s script and the chemistry Gyllenhaal & Peña fashion from it, End of Watch manages to rise above the typical action picture despite the presence of stereotypical villains, clichéd fellow police officers and climax as improbably violent as it is viscerally exciting.
The Verdict? Formulaic Hollywood stuff - - but of a perceptively higher-than-average order.
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