Saturday, June 15, 2013

Movie review: "End of Watch"

Anybody remember "Adam-12"?  In that 1970s TV police drama, officers Reed and Malloy patrolled the mean mild streets of Los Angeles, politely settling disputes between spouses and neighbors, and outsmarting crooks while rarely firing a shot. And they did it all without a whiff of profanity by anyone.

"End of Watch" is the same idea -- two buddy cops fighting crime in LA.. -- except there's about 10 times the violence, 20 times the blood and 300 times the f-bombs.
Jake Gyllenaal and Michael Pena in "End of Watch"

This 2012 movie, directed and written by David Ayer, is a gritty, impassioned look at officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) as they try seemingly single-handedly to shut down the gangs and drug cartels of South Los Angeles.

In the world of Taylor and Zavala, even routine traffic stops or a seemingly benign visit to the home of an elderly woman turn into life-or-death drama. Is every house in South Los Angeles filled with drugs, bodies or a deeply disturbed criminal?  You would think so from this movie.

Ayer accentuates the realism of his scenes by choosing to show some of the action from the perspective of video shot by the participant, giving the film a semi-documentary feel.

It's an engaging and dramatic story, and Gyllenhaal and Zavala are terrific in the lead roles.  For a movie with so much action, the dialog is surprisingly important and Ayer's script succeeds in building a believable relationship between the two officers.

Still, the movie follows a familiar story arc, and you can see the ending coming a long way off.

Also, amid the flying bullets and obscenities, it gets hard to discern the point. Is "End of Watch" simply a portrait of two cocky but all-too-human policemen? Or are the filmmakers making a broader point about the hard work of law enforcement officers everywhere? Or is the film intended as a way to shed light on a criminal cesspool in South Los Angeles?

A movie like this that attempts to capture "reality" leaves me with some questions:

Do Los Angeles Police officers stick together as partners for years at a time? Seriously, I would like to know. I would think that they occasionally rotate who they patrol with, but in this movie Taylor and Zavala are always by each other's side.

How often, really, do officers in this neighborhood become involved in a violent situation?  How often do they shoot their guns?

Are the drug gang members of L.A. really such bad shots?


(Please support this blog by clicking on an ad.)

No comments:

Post a Comment