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Film Studies 101
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Jake Gylleenhaal
Michael Pena
Anna Kendrick
America Ferrera.
David Ayers.
David Ayer.
Running Time
109 minutes

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End Of Watch
Police! Camera! Action!

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Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Peña) are a pair of LA cops whose days routinely consist of breaking up fights and dealing with gang members. But they get in over their heads when they accidentally discover something that could destroy a violent drugs cartel and refuse to leave it alone.

End Of Watch
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There are small stumbles — stylistic inconsistencies, underwritten characters — that keep End Of Watch from being the great cop movie you can feel is somewhere in there, but what David Ayer’s drugs and guns drama has in compensatory abundance is atmosphere and a story that, though an assemblage of countless movies past, is at least an assemblage of the best bits. It’s the proven set-up of sarcastic buddy cops who stumble onto a case above their pay grade, uncovering a huge drug operation on their beat. Officer Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a mouthy show-off who is as likely to be playing pranks as making arrests, while Officer Zavala (Michael Peña) is the committed family man who shares his partner’s humour but would rather his mind were more on the job. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Peña is top notch, their obvious camaraderie smoothing out their brasher personality traits. There’s as much entertainment in their trading of insults in a car as there is watching them chase down gun-waving criminals.

Ayer directs this like a reality TV cop show with higher stakes, the camera running around the action, nosing into grubby corners and getting in everyone’s face. It’s controlled chaos, frenetic, but never confusing. He also makes use of footage shot by Taylor for a sketchy, and presumably illegal, documentary project. Initially it seems that we’re going to watch the whole thing through Taylor’s camera, but Ayer gives it up whenever a scene requires a wider view or when self-shooting makes no sense. The bad guys are horribly written, possessing a vocabulary that doesn’t extend much beyond angry swearing and imbued with the depth and psychology of a Grand Theft Auto sub-villain. Yet it doesn’t detract particularly from the experience. The world of Taylor and Zavala is sufficiently involving that their survival is investment enough. You might not be able to make much sense of their foe, but you still don’t want it to shoot them.

It’s a collection of cop-movie clichés but presented with sufficient flair and strong performances that the ride is enough, even if it’s on rails.

Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Average user rating for End Of Watch
Empire Star Rating

Loved this movie.

Firstly, this review doesn't sound like a 4 star review, just thought I'd mention it. I always thought this movie was going to be good but I was genuinely blown away by it. I loved the camera work. The way it shifted from one type of film to another worked really well for me although I can understand why others may find it distracting. The performances were so good too, with the chemistry between the two leads selling every plot point as believable. And in response to the lack of character... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evildave69 at 12:49, 08 June 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Very good :)

End of Watch Remember the old US TV cop show 'Chips'? well never mind cos this ain't nothing like that lol!. From the films poster you can tell this is a badass cops, drugs and guns drama which will no doubt have lots of profanity and gangbangin involved. Profanity you say? check!, holy assburgers there is tonnes of it, a possible record breaker here folks. Aside from that the film is actually pretty good and did keep me interested throughout. The plot is basically about the lives of ... More

Posted by Phubbs at 04:19, 11 December 2012 | Report This Post

Very good :)

Powerful stuff in there, worth watching if you're up to it. Not perfect but well worth a go, good performances all round and well-written even if it does hit a lot of clichés. 8.5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackstarr at 14:55, 08 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Docking a star for ending

Seeing this tonight.... is Found footage / ShakyCam is worst thing in todays cinema? I'm thinking so ... More

Posted by dolfinack at 17:43, 27 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Southland

L: skippy82 It's not as good as an episode of Southland. bsolutely agreed - my main thought throughout the film. I also found the switch from the found-footage filming to shaky-cam filming annoying. Clearly it started out as found-footage (not a complaint) but then they got a little bored of that when filming. Good acting all round and two very enjoyable leads bickering constantly, just not as good as Southland which has really nailed the genre. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RobotDevil at 16:49, 26 November 2012 | Report This Post


LIGHT SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't agree with others criticism (including Empire's) over the villans here. They only need to serve several key scenes, and come across as truely bad people. On that front, they completely succeed. No redeeming qualities or backstory necessary. They aren't underwritten, as they function simply to carry the plot along in it's last act. The film is ultimately about the two leads, and getting a fee... More

Posted by film man aidy at 08:56, 22 November 2012 | Report This Post

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