Tuesday, January 29, 2013

End of Watch [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

My kick on really getting into police drama started with me really getting invested into the TNT show SouthLAnd. It prompted me to go back and watch another one of David Ayer's films in Training Day and for some reason I also didn't mind Street Kings. He did that back in 2009 I believe and I think I'm in the minority for liking that movie. I liked Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko and Zodiac, also I liked Michael Pena's role in Crash as well as Observe and Report. So this had all the makings of a movie I could REALLY get into. Boy did it not disappoint.

End of Watch follows the story of LA Police Officers Brian Taylor and Miguel Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) through found footage that Brian is filming for his film class. On one of their first calls since Brian started filming, they respond to a public disturbance call where, Tre (Cle Sloan), a Blood, and Miguel fight. Having won the fight, Miguel earned Tre's respect for not arresting him for assaulting a police officer. Later that night, Tre and his fellow Bloods are grilling and talking when they're attacked by a Latino gang and one of Tre's friends is killed in the drive-by. The next day Brian and Miguel find the vehicle used in the drive-by and hand the scene over to detectives. Later that night they respond to a noise complaint at a house party full of Latino gang members and have a stare-down with their "leader" Big Evil (Maurice Compte). Not long after this Brian begins to date Janet (Anna Kendrick), and they hit it off really well. One of their first dates is at Miguel's cousins quinceanera where she meets (and we're introduced) to Miguel's wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) and they all hit it off. Brian has a hunch about a house and they end up finding that the house is being used for human trafficking. Seemingly out of nowhere the IEC arrives and takes over. The officers are going to have to be on high alert as they've stumbled upon something huge and may have angered the wrong people.

There is a lot of things right with this movie and it far outweighs the "bad" that is in there. I'll start with the bad cause I think it should be known that found footage, when done right, is amazing. When done badly it's just a jumbled mess. This is one of those rare times where it's somewhere in the middle. At times when there's a chase scene or a dialogue scene between characters it's awesome. Action filled and a plethora of humor and character development. But then there are scenes when we're pulled into some god-like entities mind that lets us see whats going on, when you can clearly tell a camera isn't in use by Brian or Miguel. *SPOILER* There's a scene where Brian and Janet are clearly making out and about to have sex. Yet we see all the way up till the act. Leading us to suspend belief or have to assume Miguel is a voyeur. *SPOILER* Other little gripes could be with the shakiness of the camera at times so that you may miss some things the first viewing. As well as some of the characters being annoying at times, but this point is a pretty easy one to look over.

The acting and chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, as Officers Taylor and Zavala, is one of the things that makes this a top notch movie. It's so effortless you'd think they grew up best friends in real life. They make it so easy to like them and get invested in their respective lives and families. All while keeping you enthralled or laughing when they're on the clock, making jokes or interacting with the other officers. Also give props in supporting roles to the people who played Van Hausen, Janet, Gabby, Sarge, Orozco, Tre and Big Evil in David Harbour, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Cle Sloan and Maurice Compte. No matter what part of the movie they're involved in: if they're family, a fellow officer or an enemy of the police, they play their roles perfectly. Bringing me to something else great about this, the character development. Everyone behind the main duo, gets a great amount of screen time and you really get invest to people who could even be only playing some minor roles in the movie. The story and writing, by David Ayer, was superb and it had me engrossed and invested until the end. The dialogue between characters was real, telling, humorous and had me hooked. Hard to believe he wrote this in only six days. The music is great and the cinematography of LA is always a pleasure to see in a movie. This is no different.

All in all this was a pretty big surprise to me. As I watched it on a whim and immediately regretted not getting around to watching this sooner. David Ayer has now, I think, made two of the best police drama's of all time  between Training Day and this End of Watch. Despite it's few flaws, this movie grabs your attention with great action, amazing characters, gripping emotion and laugh out loud humor. Gyllenhaal and Pena give two of the best performances of their careers and I highly recommend everyone to take a few hours and see this movie. You won't be disappointed.

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