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End Of Watch - Review

End of Watch

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

DAVID Ayer continues to explore his fascination with the mean streets of LA in End of Watch, a punishing yet exhilarating look at the lives of two cops as they inadvertently take on a Mexican drug cartel.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play the police officers in question, two rising hotshots whose commitment to the job is as fierce as their loyalty to each other.

Over the course of the film we see, via mostly first person footage, how their job patrolling LA puts them in harm’s way almost every day, especially when confronting gang members.

But their enthusiasm for the job is unshakeable, much like their joy for life, and while Ayer’s film confronts viewers with some harsh truths about the nature of their work, it also delves into their personal lives, examining their friendship as well as their relationships with the women they love (Anna Kendrick once again shines as Gyllenhaal’s girlfriend, while Natalie Martinez provides Latino feistiness as Peña’s wife).

Hence, for all its harrowing elements – and there is some tough stuff to be found – the film also has plenty of heart as well, which means you will care about how things turn out.

But just as he displayed with his script for Training Day and his film, Harsh Times, Ayer isn’t one for pat resolutions and easy sentiment. End of Watch packs a mean gut punch, which only makes it more memorable.

Admittedly, the use of shaky cam will be a turn off to some and does hinder the film’s momentum on occasion, especially as Ayer doesn’t always use it (several sweeping shots of LA’s skyline might make you pine even more for conventional techniques).

It can also be quite disorientating through some sequences, while lending others – such as the opening car chase – a stylish authenticity.

But as frustrating as this can be, the film still boasts a vice-like grip on your attention for the way in which it maintains the tension while delivering an unnerving insight into this particular part of the world.

In Gyllenhaal and Peña, meanwhile, it has two guides who are, by turns, charismatic, brave and fool-hardy and whose journey is both real and ultimately unforgettable.

Ayer has created another classic.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: November 23, 2012