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End Of Watch (2012)

Two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel, during a routine traffic stop.

Directed by David Ayer (creator of ‘Training Day’), this buddy cop movie takes a turn for the gritty and handheld, as Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his partner Mike (Michael Peña) watch the streets of Los Angeles.

Coming in to this, I felt excited about the prospect of seeing this movie live up to the height of Training Day. But moments into it I saw that this is an entirely different beast, which does share some of it’s DNA with his big brother.

The stage is set from the moment the movie starts rolling, we meet up with the 2 cops who consider eachother brothers and follow them on their day to day routine.
The banter between them, the fact that it’s largely filmed with handheld camera’s and the acting skills of both Jake and Michael makes it all feel authentic.
The most obvious question would be: does the whole shaky-cam, handheld idea hold up in an action driven cop movie, and the answer is yes: for the most part it does.

A very attentive viewer would spot moments where it is clearly a cameraman filiming, which feels out of place when you consider this is pitched to us as a real life account of their lives. It’s a mix between what Training Day did and what an episode of cops looks like.
As far as I know there aren’t any cop movies which feature this similar style, and it’s both its best and worst quality.

The thing with movies is that it isn’t real. And where ‘End Of Watch’ wants us to believe that it is, it constantly takes you out of the experience once the action movie that’s hidden inside takes over.
Whether it’s the fact that they encounter human trafficking, huge drug busts, shootings and high speed pursuits all over the course of 6 months, or the fact that 4 gangbangers with automatic rifles (one even being an ex-military dude) can’t shoot them when in full sight, you get taken out of the whole ‘authentic’ vibe that it has.

Make no mistake: End Of Watch is brutal, in its approach and its execution it leaves no room for compromise. The action hits hard and because of the extensive amount of character development we get over the course of the movie, the action hits you in your gut. It’s a very well shot movie too.
With lots of downtown L.A. featured along with a bunch of great actors, amongst them being Anna Kendrick and Frank Grillo (that familiar face from movies like Minority Report or Warrior) End of Watch is definitely worth at least one viewing.

Even though it can be a bit of a hit and miss at times in terms of reality, it’s never the less one of the best looks you’ll get at the life of a modern day L.A. cop and it beats out numerous other movies that have been released this year.

Watch out for this in your local cinema, it’s bound to captivate you.

8/10 stars!

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