Tuesday, 27 November 2012
REVIEW: END OF WATCH
109 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal & Michael Peña. Director/Screenwriter: David Ayer.
I hate it when an idea for a film I have comes out before I even get the chance to daydream it into a 'Best Picture' category. OK, let's put my petty, jealous, aspiring screenwriting dreams aside and put it out there...I love a good cop movie. From 'L.A. Confidential' and 'Public Enemies' to 'The Untouchables', or 'Heat' to 'Training Day' (speaking of writers there's some of those ones here). With all due respect to the 'Lethal Weapons' and 'Rush Hours' of the world however there needs to be more 'serious', 'buddy cop movies' and between shaky 'Cloverfield' and first hand 'Blair Witch' camera filmed, style footage and 'GTA' like first person shooting comes exactly that in 'End Of Watch'.
I always thought doing a police story via the filmed footage from police cruisers or 'stringers' (that was going to be the name...but I digress) like on the late night, guilty pleasure popular 'Worlds Wildest Police Chases' (shout out to the legendary, pun and white teeth and hair 'tastic Sherrif John Bunnell) would make a good movie. Apparently so did writer/director David Ayer who pens and produces a modern great behind the video camera lens. Even a great shot needs a steady hand or two however and that's where our Starsky and Hutch, cowboy cops come in, complete with standard issue, classic police uniform and car, cruising around Southern California.
The latest Pitt, DiCaprio, Hartnett, pretty boy turned post-30, great actor Jake Gyllenhaal yet again shows us why he's leading up the A-list actor ranks. The man of the moment who always has 'Donnie Darko', 'Jarhead' and 'Zodiac' behind him has been on fire the last few with a real, romantic comedy in 'Love & Other Drugs' and last years mind-boggling, 'Quantum Leap' time jump classic 'Source Code'. Now with a shaved head and a no b.s. attitude he plays a cop with a badge and a behaviour of warrant. On his side he has his brother and his partner Michael Peña who in-between making a 'Tower Heist' (and showing he has the gift for comedy gab) and joining Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling's G-Men 'Gangster Squad' shows he's a cop of todays times too. One that shows his brilliant portrayal of gritty, modern day Los Angeles doesn't just end with the powerful, emotional punch of the hit 'Crash'.
With each others hearts and backs our two leads deliver soulful performances in a seemingly soulless profession. Between moonlighting as the bravest firemen and doing some wrong in the name of the right thing these boys go above and beyond the law. From cruiser confessional conversations of great front-seat dialogue to action scenes that are tensely taught with every distorted camera shake, the elements of their job and partnership are captured perfectly. Focus on the charismatic camaraderie and the 'ride or die' loving loyalty and you can see why both these great actors one-up the emotional stakes to deliver a great story and film. You have the right to remain stunned by the brutal and bold moments that really reveal the sides of the law and disorder of modern day policing and crime. The five months worth of 12 hour on-the-job, real ride alongs really have paid off for our two actors. This feels so authentic.
Exciting and emotional with bling that could make Kanye blush and gore that could make Tarantino gag this is something else. With a great soundtrack, (most notably Cam'Ron and Public Enemy) supporting cast (most notably Anna Kendrick and Frank Grillo) and setting scene (just all of L.A. is of note) this is a seriously, straight-shooting affair that's as real and raw as it gets. Documenting this police work on film is an inspired way of showing us the genuine article and it doesn't get much more convincing then Gyllenhaal and Peña's first-rate, dutiful performances of valor. The brotherhood bond in these ones are strong, from the hopeful home lives to the warrior like work-ethic perfect parallels. It's this combination of the partners code that give beauty to a movie that deals with some really ugly themes and truths. What would these too or this film be without each other? With them we have one of this years bravest and best. This is no cop out...call it in. TIM DAVID HARVEY.