To define End Of Watch as a stereotypical cop blockbuster with a famous actor in the lead role would be doing the film an injustice. I admit, Jake Gyllenhaal’s name (and face) instantly grabbed my attention. His previous critically acclaimed roles have marked him as an incredibly successful film actor, bringing to the media’s attention the indie thriller Donnie Darko and the challengingly controversial Brokeback Mountain. Co-starring Michael Peña and America Ferrera, the End Of Watch cast is full of recognisable faces (Anna Kendrick also stars as Jake Gyllenhaal’s girlfriend – lucky thing!) yet the diverse mix of unknown actors interweaved throughout allows us to appreciate the film as a believable story instead of a distracting who’s-who-and-how-do-I-know-them. Shot by handheld camera work, the audience is sure to be blasted by an immediate sense of intimacy, involving us in the relaxed and comical banter of Gyllenhaal and Peña’s police partnership and consequently the danger they become involved in.
Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Peña) are typical cop-buddies, patrolling the streets as a darkly comic duo on the south central Los Angeles police force. They have a seemingly easy job, enjoying the recognition and perks with little hard work, yet are very likeable characters. The relaxed atmosphere does not last however, as the two policemen are soon threatened and targeted by a dangerous Mexican gang. Subsequently high-octane shoot outs, swinging camera action and night vision create a severe contrast to the blissful personal lives they lead in the meantime.
Rotten Tomatoes have awarded End Of Watch 86%. Clearly this cop saga is successful at differentiating itself from the usual buddy cop genre, or the good cop/bad cop motif. In many opinions the use of handheld cameras is somewhat clichéd especially after Cloverfield, but don’t let this put you off. It can be the perfect technique to create the sudden visceral changes in tempo that End of Watch claims to be full of, highlighting the vast contrasts between ordinary car patrols, smooth arrests and tense night-time searches. End Of Watch is an intriguing mix of the stereotypical genre. I am certainly fascinated to see whether the gamble is as successful as the reviews say.
End of Watch will be released on 23rd November 2012.