One of my favorite quotes from the movie “End of Watch”. As a Police Academy graduate and past police officer this quote just hits home for me. Any one who has any law enforcement history knows how true this is!
Brian Taylor: [voice over] I’m the police. And I’m here to arrest you. You’ve broken the law. I did not write the law. I may even disagree with the law. But I will enforce it. No matter how you plead, cajole, beg or attempt to stir my sympathies, nothing you do will stop me from placing you in a steel cage with grey bars. If you run away, I will chase you. If you fight me, I will fight back. If you shoot at me, I will shoot back. By law, I am unable to walk away. I’m a consequence. I am the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and a gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed. I think. I love. And yes, I can be killed. And although I’m but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who are the same as me. They will lay down their lives for me. And I them. We stand watch together. A thin blue line. Protecting the prey from the predators. The good from the bad. We are the police.
I am the police, and I’m here to arrest you. You’ve broken the law. I did not write the law. I may disagree with the law but I will enforce it. No matter how you plead, cajole, beg or attempt to stir my sympathy. Nothing you do will stop me from placing you in a steel cage with gray bars. If you run away I will chase you. If you fight me I will fight back. If you shoot at me I will shoot back. By law I am unable to walk away. I am a consequence. I am the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and a gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love, and yes I can be killed. And although I am but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who are the same as me. They will lay down their lives for me and I them. We stand watch together. The thin-blue-line, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police.
End of Watch made me feel things I’m not sure I should feel…. I just can’t put into words how that movie touched me. It was so good but I absolutely hated it at the same time. I can’t even explain it. I’m going to sleep now cause just wow.
For me, Ayer’s work has never been much to look forward to. However, when you expect little it’s not hard to find yourself pleasantly surprised, especially when our two leads (Gyllenhaal and Pena) spark a chemistry so captivating and believable that the plot inevitably takes a back seat. The two performances came together in an unlikely and deeply intimiate harmony, a gem captured rarely throught this movie genre.
Critics are likely to compare our guys to the likes of other cop-duo bench marks like Glover and Gibson (Lethal Weapon) but in my mind, ‘End of Watch’ has positioned itself in a non-comparable position. The reason? that this is in fact, above all else, a bromance story merely set against the gritty backdrop of downtown LA.
Given this unbreakable, claustrophobic, live-and-breathe cop partnership, the numerous insights into their personal lives were left totally irrelevant. The immersion of the found footage and the confines of the car renounces the importance of the their lives beyond the job and had me eager to rejoin the duo on the job every time we left it. Usually, this is an effective device for character development and establishing empathy in the audience, but here it just didn’t add anything. Furthermore, these tangents would have been less intrusive had they not been ridden with cliches. Now, cliches never usually trouble me, but in a movie that’s overtly attempting to transcend the norms of the cop movie genre, they stick out like a sore thumb (oh the irony).
The inclusion of found footage was definitely successful in its capture of the gritty realism and slow building to the action packed finale, but it was too disappointingly safe to achieve its full potential. Though Ayer used it strategically throughout the film to give weight to tense moments, it contradicted the randomness and uncertainty that found footage usually does so well to achieve and as a result, the plot became more contrived than I think Ayer wanted it to be.
Niggles aside, the film is enjoyable in places. the acting is faultless and the plot builds slowly and consistently, managing to keep even the most impatient ones among us hooked with some deeply tense stand-offs, interesting dialogue and one killer climax.
TIFF 2012: End of Watch, From an Officer's Point of View
Going into the film festival, End of Watch was on many people’s list of must-sees. End of Watch is a police drama, told through the usage of POV/found footage style of filmmaking. The film stars Jake Gyllahaal and Michael Pena as officer Brian and Mike, a pair of headstrong cops who are always in trouble. The film is set on the streets of central Los Angeles. It is a brotherhood story, about two cops trying to police a very violent and gang-filled section of Los Angeles. Before this film is a crime story, it is a story about family. It tackles the relationships of police officers and the stresses of dealing with violence, gangs and drugs everyday. The film is action packed from start to finish. The POV style of cinematography keeps the audience directly in the action at all times. While it can be distracting at times, it gives an intensity that is hard to make with conventional cinematography.
Cinematography is the most important aspect of this film. The cinematography in this film has multiple ways of show us the actions of the police officers. Sometimes we are shown the labors of these police officers from hand handle POV, night vision mini cameras, police cruiser cameras or home videos. The varying types of camera work can be a bit distracting but helps to perpetuates the theme of this film being directly from the point of view of the police offers. Some scenes within in the film though, do not have any of these types of camera style. This being so, one can only assume that the audience is jumping in and out of realist camera styles and conventional professional cinematography. While many audience members will not have a problem with this, it removes you the film. Once you start to notice these scenes you begin to question what the filmmakers true motives are. Found footage is compiled with conventional cinematography may be the biggest inconsistence within this film. Unlike past found footage films like TheBlair Witch Project and Cloverfield, that kept this style going throughout the film, End of Watch’s inability to commit is its biggest weakness.
Acting in End of Watch, emphasizes on the characters themselves. One unique thing that you will notice about the film is that every character seems to have a partner. Regardless of what character it is, or the role they have in the film, there is some else who they count on. This goes to show you just how important family, friendships and loyalty is to the film. The acting of Jake Gyllanhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez was great. A lot of emotion and intensity were drawn from these actors throughout the film. The more distracting actors were the gangs. Their dialogue involved a lot of intangible words and quick sentence. This could easily lead to confusion as to what exactly they were talking about.
End of Watch is a great action film. It is intense, emotional and fast-paced. While it is inconsistent in the particular style of filmmaking it chooses to use, it is not overly problematic as people will be more focused on the action rather than the changes in camera style. End of Watch is in theatres now, and is worth checking out.