As Mel Gibson’s character Porter grumbled in “Payback,” “Dirty Cops. Do they come any other way?” Cop movies most always thrive on Bad Cop Syndrome. They’re either on the take through organized crime or confiscating cash to send their kids to college, ripping off drug dealers or at the very least hiding behind badges as bullies. Those are the reasons why ‘End of Watch’ is such a fresh look at the cop movie genre. The story’s about two partners in the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) get up every day & do the job. What I loved about the movie is, these guys weren’t looking to score a huge payday & retire. It was quite the opposite. Their idea of ‘hitting it big’ is always in the form of a big bust. These LAPD officers are the good guys.
What I also enjoyed was the balance between action on the streets & verbal action between buddies in the squad car. Spending endless hours on patrol, Brian & Mike talk about virtually anything from sex to Starbucks. These scenes just tick away until the moment something happens. When they get the call, it’s on. NO SPOILERS. I live in Southern California. What happens in Downtown Los Angeles seems a million miles away. It is dark, desolate & dangerous. The actors playing gang members are a constant reminder: Make sure your GPS works, respect their space & stay out of alleys.
On the first night of prep for this film, Jake was on an LAPD ride-along. It’s there where he witnessed a shoot-out between gang members and one person was murdered right in front of his eyes. Gyllenhaal did express experiencing intense moments of fear out in the field. How could you not? The point of exposing yourself to such violence & potential life peril, is to simply funnel all that energy into a performance, which he most certainly did. When they do go out an those calls, I had to remind myself to breathe.
Finally, a cop movie where you’re rooting for cops. The only problem: The bad guys are just too well-funded, too many in numbers, too armed & way too murderous. “End of Watch’ is rated ‘R.’ You can follow me on Twitter @leoquinones
CAUTION: This is the RED BAND Trailer for “End of Watch”