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Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: End of Watch

Two Cops Bleeding Blue

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: September 21, 2012 – U.S.
Rating: R
Genre: Action, Drama
Running Time: 109 minutes
Director: David Ayer           
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, 
Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, 
David Harbour, Frank Grillo, 
America Ferrera

The previews make "End of Watch" seem like a buddy-cop movie. It's actually a whole lot more than that.

Shot almost like a documentary, the film chronicles two police officers – Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) – as they go from case to case. Some of their assignments are routine and others are decidedly less so. The story is actually very basic, very minimal – just a slice in the lives of these men.

"End of Watch" is very much a slow-burner, but because of that, the relationship between the two police officers is allowed to develop to a much deeper degree than I think we've ever seen before in a movie of this type. You come to realize how much they rely on, protect, and love each other as friends, partners, and "brothers." Gyllenhaal and Pena really sell the camaraderie between the two characters and deliver completely natural, absolutely outstanding performances.

Family is important to both of them, which is a theme that runs alongside their work on the streets. Zavala is married to Gabby (Natalie Martinez) with a second child on the way. Taylor is in a serious relationship with Janet (Anna Kendrick) and looks to his fellow officer for advice and guidance.

Also on the force are Orozco (America Ferrara, "Ugly Betty"), Sarge (Frank Grillo, "The Grey") and Van Hauser (David Harbour, "Quantum of Solace"). Grillo and Harbour – two "I know those faces" actors – and Ferrara have strong supporting roles.

The only real flaw is Kendrick. As much fun as she is in "Up in the Air" and "Pitch Perfect," she seems badly miscast here. I kept waiting for her character to turn into a shrew or have questionable motivations of some sort, but that never happened. Kendrick's surprisingly limited performance sends unintentional mixed signals. That's a minor issue though; the rest of the movie more than makes up for it.

"End of Watch" is very gritty and has some extremely disturbing and graphic scenes, but that "reality" is what makes it so special.  

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