Rated: R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use. Reviewed by: Frank Release date: September 21, 2012 Released by: OPEN ROAD FILMS
The idea of using a hand held camera leaves us in a position similar to watching a movie on the radio. Director David Aver uses the device on an off creating some scenes that are jostled so significantly we don't know what is going on leaving us frustrated as we attempt to follow the story and action. Too often the blur and confusion of the camera work is the main character in the film.
There is a parallel in the film for the hand held filming, because Jake Gyllenhaal's Brian Taylor is in the process (against his department's policy) of filming the day by day activity of him and partner Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) as they patrol in ordinary and some times dangerous police work.
Director, David Aver was successful leading Denzel Washington to an academy award in Training Day about a rogue cop. Here the two leading characters are solid police officers and family men who are caught up in Taylor's more ambitious agenda to go into dangerous situations to solve problems of serious crime normally in the hands of detectives. That leads to danger for the two uniform officers as they head into dark places where gangs are willing to kill to survive.
Each day the two spend their time with comical bickering and banter about each others philosophy and crime solutions. But even when we laugh the dialogue is hollow.
Action comes to them when they step up and enter those dangerous situations which they can not control and are unaware of the full context of what is happening. When the action explodes it rings false as it takes ten minutes for help to arrive after a flurry of automatic weapons are fired on the streets of Los Angeles. It almost rings silly that response to "shots fired" doesn't bring swift reaction from police vehicles and helicopters particularly when cops are the target.
As we see the two leads as good cops the story tends to paint nearly all other cops as foolish and close to ridiculous. It's not the playful antics like custard in the face, its conceit which exhibits its self in the need to film everything even if it's for a photography class that leads to trouble.
Some comedy works as the main characters compare the strengths and weaknesses they assign to various ethnic groups, partly because the two cops are a mixed marriage working at coming together.
Anna Kendrick is the new girlfriend in a limited role as is Natalie Martinez playing a wife. David Harbour is an angry veteran cop with one ugly monolog to define his character.
End of Watch doesn't end quickly enough but it does bring some strong action and emotional pathos as the final shift ends.
|End of Watch||C+||B-||B||B+||B|