Comic-Con isn't all about caped crusaders or Men of Steel, or hairy-footed Hobbits. But that said, it was still refreshing to see David Ayer's End Of Watch receive its premiere in Hall H today.
That's because the movie is a straight-up cop film, with no genre trappings or gimmicks, following LAPD partners Jake Gylleenhaal and Michael Pena on a typical day in their lives, a day that soon threatens to turn deadly when they're marked for death by a notorious gang.
Ayer has been here before – he wrote Training Day and Dark Blue, wrote and directed Harsh Times and Street Kings, all of which dealt with corruption in the LAPD – but this one promises to be different, and is based on real-life experiences of policemen friends of his.
“They’re good guys, they believe in the mission but they’re street-smart and they’re bad dudes," he said. "It's like a marriage, and in a marriage you don't get shot at. Well, it depends on where you live."
The film is also set apart by its shooting style, with Ayer capturing the action on a series of found-footage style camera, from dashboard-mounted cams to iPhones. He even strapped cameras to his actors. "I thought, how is this guy going to make a movie?" mused Pena. "It was all POV, POV, POV, POV. He strapped a camera onto me, he built all these weird contraptions - I was like a Mexican RoboCop!"
Ayer and Pena brought some footage from the film, and it looked impressive, from a very funny ridealong scene where Pena's frequent cursing is bleeped out, to a much more intense sequence where he and Gyllenhaal are called to a burning building, and endure a close shave with some falling masonry. It doesn't feel like a found-footage movie, it feels fresh and new and vibrant. "We shot it over 21 days," said Ayer. "The cameras I needed simply didn't exist. I had to build them. And the script exploded out of me in six days."
For more on End Of Watch, stay tuned to Empire Online and a future issue of Empire magazine.