Written and Directed by David Ayer
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, and Anna Kendrick
Length: 1 hr 50min
Rated R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use
Available on Netflix
End of Watch is one intense movie. In its 110 minute run time a man has a knife buried in his eye, the main characters discover a room of dismembered corpses, and a woman has her face sliced to ribbons. Add to that 326 f-bombs (about 3 per minute) and what do you get? You might be surprised that End of Watch is actually an incredibly touching drama. Yes, there are extreme moments of violence, drug use, and language. Yes, a lot of people die. But the moments in between are filled with a tenderness and vulnerability that open your heart to the characters.
The movie was written and directed by David Ayer, who also penned the smash hit Training Day. Ayer himself is an ex-cop, and it comes through in the script. Some elements of the story are a little farfetched (i.e. an international drug kingpin puts out a hit on two LAPD beat cops) but hey, it’s Hollywood. The fact is, I never felt like I was being lied to. The characters felt true, their relationships felt true, and the sentiments always landed home. I won’t lie. I cried. Tears, real tears, rolled down my face near the end. I don’t do spoilers, but it’s really heavy stuff, and perfectly handled by Ayer and the lead actors.
At one point in the film a character asks, “What makes a hero?” He asks in all curiosity. Then he shrugs it off. He doesn’t know, and he doesn’t care, because he’s not in it for the glory. Cops rarely are. As you’ll learn in this movie police work is mostly about paperwork and comfortable footwear, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t real danger around every corner.
My brother is a police officer so trust me, my mom will NEVER watch this movie. It might be exaggerated. It might be larger than life. But the truth is that being a police officer can be extremely hazardous. And it can be really scary. It gave me a new respect for the men that patrol our streets, especially in cities like L.A., or my hometown of Stockton, CA. In a country that likes to scrutinize and condemn every little action the police make, I think it’s important to remember they do protect us, no matter how you feel about them.
3 out of 4 stars