END OF WATCH
A Story of Brotherhood
Release Date: September 21, 2012
Runtime: 109 minutes
Distributor: Open Road Films
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Address Comments To:Tom Ortenberg, CEO, Open Road Films
12301 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 571-2200; Fax: (310) 571-2278
A police car pursues a car through the ghetto in South Central Los Angeles. Brian Taylor describes in a narration during the car chase the lengths they, the police, will go to punish crime. The car crashes, the criminals jump out and shoot at the police, but the police overpower and kill the criminals.
Cut to the police station. Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young police officer filming a documentary for a film school project. His partner is Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), a married Hispanic man with his first child on the way. The movie follows these two police officers through the lens of Jake’s camera.
Right off the bat, the camera shows these two guys are very different. Brian is irresponsible and reckless, with no sense of good judgment. Unlike Mike, Brian has trouble finding meaningful relationships, even though he’s now dating a girl who might have potential. Mike is very happy with his relationship with his wife. He seems content with his life. The movie shows all this through the conversations Mike and Brian have in their squad car while cruising around the city.
Through different situations they go through, Brian and Mike grow closer together as friends, always watching each other’s back in the field. One night they hear over their radio about a nearby fire. They rush to the scene to find a house ablaze. A woman stands outside screaming for her children. Instinctively, Mike rushes into the burning building with Brian screaming for him to come back.
Mike finds the children, but gets lost in the smoke. Brian saves him just in time, but not without hurting himself in the process by inhaling excessive amount of smoke. Because of this act of courage, the city awards medals to both Brian and Mike. More importantly, their bond of brotherhood grows even stronger.
Brian finally gets married to his girlfriend, Janet. Eventually, they discover she’s pregnant. With both men now having families to protect, they have much more reason to live.
Things start going bad after Brian and Mike discover a major cartel hiding spot with drugs, money and sex slaves. Their discovery makes them targets for the cartel. Soon, they soon have a bounty on their head. Brian and Mike continue their work in the ghetto with no idea what’s coming for them, and what does come for them will test everything they hold dear.
END OF WATCH is brilliantly made. The characters are naturally developed and the story is very moving. The movie very much feels like a documentary, with shaky camera work and long sequences of people talking. This makes the movie feel incredibly real, which increases the tension immensely. There are strong moral elements with Christian aspects of sacrifice and courage. There’s also a conversation where Mike tells Brian about taking marriage seriously. He goes on to say that marriage is a “lifelong commitment and a promise before God.” Both men care deeply for their family, and children are seen as a good thing. There’s also a scene in a church where a large cross is the focal point. The movie strongly relates to the struggles that inner city police officers face.
Even so, as touching as END OF WATCH was, it will be too excessive for media wise viewers because of an excessive amount of language, including over 300 f-bombs. There’s also extreme gruesome violence (though not gratuitous) and some sexuality and sensuality (though no extreme nudity). END OF WATCH would get a much larger audience if it eliminated most of this negative content, or at least toned it down a bit. As it is, extreme caution is advised.
END OF WATCH is brilliantly made. The documentary style of filmmaking makes the action sequences more intense and the personal scenes more meaningful. It has a strong moral worldview with Christian aspects of sacrifice and courage. There’s also a strong message of taking marriage seriously and strong themes of what it means to be a good friend. Regrettably, END OF WATCH has excessive foul language, graphic violence and some sensuality.