'End of Watch' Review By the MovieGhost

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  • Story
  • Acting
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  • Visuals
I can count on one hand the total number of "Cop" movies I've seen throughout my life. Those two movies were "S.W.A.T." and this. It's been a few months since I've sat down and watched "S.W.A.T." from beginning to end, but I know that while it was dark and or serious at times, it was nowhere near the levels that "End of Watch" went to. By the time this movie was over, I had laughed so hard my ribs hurt, shed a few tears, recoiled in visible disgust, and physically shook from overwhelming anger. This is, by far, one of the best Cop movies I've seen.


Bryan Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are two LAPD officers who work in South Central Los Angeles. A usual work day for them consists of car chases, fist-fighting with potential arrestees, and dealing with the odd gangland shooting. After following up on a susp*cion from Taylor, the two officers uncover a small cache of money, firearms, and other grisly sites that all tie back to a drug cartel. Appearances from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), confirm what Taylor and Zavala already suspect: something of grave importance is happening right in front of them. Little do they know just how far things will progress and to what lengths they will have to go to.

When I sat down earlier this afternoon, I had no idea I would be in for the type of experience I had with "End of Watch". I've seen the full-length trailer at least half a dozen times, and while brief glimpses from key scenes are in the trailer, it's not until after you've seen the movie in full context that you understand what those "brief glimpses" really entail. One thing I knew going in was that this film would be shown from the perspectives of a handful of different hand-held cameras, à la "Cloverfield", "Paranormal Activity" and other such movies. It certainly had the potential to be as jarring or unrecognizable as a few of those other movies, but barring a couple of instances where I could hardly make out who was who, those issues were minimal.

There is so much that I enjoyed with this film. From the day-to-day interactions between Taylor and Zavala, and the other people in their division, to the grittier action sequences. But above all the aspects that I loved the most were the levels of plausibility and realism. One such moment was the movie's introduction. For nearly three to four minutes, all you could see was what happened from the point-of-view of a squad car's dashboard camera. That was how we were introduced to Bryan Taylor and Mike Zavala. In those brief few minutes, we were shown what the characters of both men would be throughout the course of the movie. Another scene was Taylor and Zavala's responding to a probationary officer's cries for help over the radio. Once the arrived on the scene, things were much different than what they, and I myself, expected them to be.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña were fantastic in their respective roles. From the quieter moments of down-time to the intense and "edge-of-your-seat" points, both men are completely engaging and believable. They give you the sense that you are right there beside them in their day-to-day, assisted greatly by the changing cameras. Before the end of the movie you get the sense that the two men are brothers. That they would do anything for the other. It's that fact that makes the climax of "End of Watch" all the more impactful and telling.

Anna Kendrick (Janet) and Natalie Martinez (Gabby) were both convincing and entertaining in their respective roles as Taylor and Zavala's wives. There are two scenes in particular, one that consists of just Taylor and Janet in the former's car, and the other with all four attending a wedding, where I literally laughed out loud at what was happening on-screen. They were also appropriate during the more touching moments.

There were a couple of surprises that actually did surprise me. One was a little too obviously telegraphed earlier in the movie, but both were nonetheless handled perfectly. Writer-director David Ayer, who wrote "End of Watch" in six days and also wrote "S.W.A.T.", did a fantastic job with this movie. If you haven't seen it by now, I seriously recommend that you do. Just be prepared for an abundance of swearing.

This was a review by tMG, thank you very much for reading.

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Comments (19)

  1. the MovieGhost

    @Zak-Lee-Ferguson Oh that's fine man, you explained your reasoning for thumbing down, so it wasn't a biggie for me. At least you explained it, ha ha. I do agree about the POV being excessive at times, but overall, for me (obviously), it worked.

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  2. Zak Lee Ferguson

    @the-movieghost i thumbed up i felt guilty- good enough read gooed enough to raiiissseee me thumb but i felt the pov was just a tad played out and it is dying now- it didnt do naything excessible with it!

    1 year agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  3. skywise

    @the-movieghost Like i said i loved the movie and that is really only a minor issue.

    1 year agoby @skywiseFlag

  4. the MovieGhost

    @crypt No worries man, it's only used as a "last ditch" kind of thing.

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  5. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    @the-movieghost haha keep that up, and there will be no more movies!

    1 year agoby @cryptFlag

  6. the MovieGhost

    @skywise Ah, well I can certainly understand your perspective, pardon the pun, on that. While I wasn't necessarily taken out of the experience, I did find myself questioning, "How the Hell does THAT person have a camera in THAT situation?"

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  7. skywise

    @the-movieghost My only real issue is with the POV useage. I think this is one of the best movies that used the POV perspective and there are often moments that set up why it is actually being used to such lengths that I was often thrown when the camera perspective would switch to 3 person formats and then back and fourth in the same scene.

    I loved the movie, but I hate thinking about why directors make these kindof decisions on a first viewing when I am just trying to take everything in and enjoy the spectacle.

    What I am trying to say is there are decisions made that took me out of the movie.

    1 year agoby @skywiseFlag

  8. the MovieGhost

    @skywise Wuh-oh, "pretty much"? what parts of the movie/my review didn't line up?

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  9. skywise

    @the-movieghost I did get to see it. I pretty much agree with your assessment. I really enjoyed it. It was a lot different than I expected, in a good way.

    1 year agoby @skywiseFlag

  10. the MovieGhost

    @jasdjqs Thanks man, much appreciated.

    @skywise Thanks 'Wise! Were you able to catch this one?

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  11. skywise

    @the-movieghost awesome review!

    1 year agoby @skywiseFlag

  12. jasdjqs

    Great movie. Nice review

    1 year agoby @jasdjqsFlag

  13. the MovieGhost

    @Zak-Lee-Ferguson Ah well that's understandable, given how many other Cop movies there are, another one can get repetitive. Thanks though!

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  14. the MovieGhost

    @moviegeek It definitely was, thanks.

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  15. the MovieGhost

    Well @crypt, let's just say that I've got my methods ;D Thank you though!

    1 year agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  16. Zak Lee Ferguson

    i disliked because of the rating but i do really like your review- you give such good points- that own up to your reasonings in liking this- in my eyes- slam bang booossshhh arghhh head ache dizzying slow, redundent lame witted film! :)

    1 year agoby @Zak-Lee-FergusonFlag

  17. moviegeek

    This movie was awesome. A big surprise.

    1 year agoby @moviegeekFlag

  18. The Cryptkeeper: Resurrected

    @the-movieghost Is this on DVD yet? Since you sat down earlier this afternoon and watched it? haha I've wanted to see it ever since I saw the trailer, but did not catch it in theaters :(

    nice review man!

    1 year agoby @cryptFlag