End of Watch Review: Found-Footage Cop Drama Mostly Hits the Target

rating:3.5

You can just hear that "Bad Boys" song playing can't you, well it's nowhere to be found during the film's runtime. Training Day's writer David Ayer allows us to ride along the patrol car of Officer's Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala as they chase, bust and have small talk about their off-duty lives. Taking place in the infamous and crime-ridden South Central L.A, the movie tries to go the "Found Footage" route, but luckily not all of it is from a hand-held camera's P.O.V. So you can say it's hedging it's bets in terms of shooting angles. I didn't mind the constant switching between the two styles, it allows for us to take in the full perspective the main characters are experiencing. The main problem with this technique is the problem I find with most "Found-Footage" movies: shakiness does not equate to drama or suspense when we cannot see what the hell is going on in the frame. Again the 'earthquake' filming is offset by a third person omniscient views from time to time, so it is not completely detrimental to the story. The better news is that the fine ensamble cast delivers, lead by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as the camcorder savvy law-enforcement officers. The chemistry between the two is the main driving force, literally and figuratively, of the story. The time we spend getting to now these two on the job is invaluable, as it is the most entertaining and rewarding parts. The two play off each as, not just as brothers-in-arms, but blood brothers as well. They tease, horse-around and back-each other up like all the other great buddy-cop teams in film. As we follow the duo through episode-to-episode of crime-fighting, we are deeply involved in seeing them making it through their shift. Supporting the two off-the-clock are their significant others, played by an always expressive and adorable Anna Kendrick as Gyllenhaal's girlfriend and newcomer Natalie Martinez as Pena's high-school sweetheart. From these two women we further see evidence that Taylor and Zavala are not the normal hardened, serious and brooding cops we usually get in these gritty crime dramas. I'll single-out Mrs. Kendrick, as It should be noted that the usual Cop Girlfriend role could've been a throwaway role as just the love-interest in a crime-drama but she, especially in a scene where see takes hold of Taylor's camera, injects much needed personality to the supporting role. We do believe why someone like Taylor would fall head-over-heals for her (perhaps that just myself...ah, well). Additionally, another female cop duo played by an edgy American Ferra and Magic Mike's Cody Horn add a different mix to the testosterone heavy police department. Not that the pair are any less good hard-hitting beat cops. Now for some bad, the "bad boys" of the story are as generic gang-bangers as can be, with as bland generic personalities and motives as any buddy-cop drama out there. The script loads expletives upon expletives in their speeches that eventually just gets to be near parody after a few scenes with them in it. Even worse is that every scene that the gang-bangers have take time away from the cop-side of the story, which is infinitely better and involving. It is only in the final shoot-out that the baddies add anything positive to the story, in that they are the people that need to be shot. All in all a mixed bag; however, it is the chemistry between the leads and their realistic portrayals of law-enforcers and their families from day-to-day that is worth the ticket price. Rest assured, this not just an episode of "Cops". Though, again, I really wanted the theme of "Bad Boys" to play at some time during their street patrols. End of Watch opens in the UK October 11, 2012
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Writer and film-nut I'm willing to have perfectly reasonable discussions about the movies I love... on the internet... perhaps I asked too much. Read and comment on my personal blog too at cityuponahillmedia.com/blog