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Saturday, 1 December 2012

End of Watch

William Friedkin heaped praise on this film calling it 'maybe the best cop movie ever made', and I can understand why. As far as cop movies go, End of Watch is a fantastically entertaining 2 hours with a sharp script, extremely visceral action and two outstanding performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as two patrol cops who get embroiled in the violent struggle with a Mexican drug cartel in L.A. It's filmed to give the maximum impression of realism, using POV and documentary style camera angles which double up as a narrative device as Gyllenhaal's Brian Taylor records their daily watch, and also works to show the cockiness and bravado of two cops who initially don't treat their work that seriously. But as the film progresses they both realise the danger of their profession and the possibility of either man dying in the field as they uncover the increasingly disturbing and macabre activities the Mexican gangs are into - after saving three children in a house fire neither man feels a hero, just more mortal than before. What elevates End of Watch above other cop movies is the excellent character development of Taylor and Zavala and an incredibly naturalistic partnership between Gyllenhaal and Pena. Whether they're bantering about Mexican versus White culture (some of the funniest exchanges I've heard at the cinema all year), discussing Taylor's love life, or covering each other in a gunfight, their rapport is engaging and instantly believable. Even if the film appears to wander at points, Gyllenhaal and Pena both turn out powerful performances which would be Oscar worthy in the right kind of film. It does appear to run out of steam towards the end, where I thought it would be slightly less predictable - I thought they would expand on the subplot where Taylor and Zavala are warned by shady government ops not to interfere with the cartel investigations - but nevertheless the film works on the strength of the dynamic between the two men.