Guns? Check. Hand-held camera? Check. Lots of swearing? Check. Okay, we’re ready for the latest in a long line of edgy cop movies based in the parts of Los Angeles where even rats carry weapons.
From the writer of Training Day and The Fast and the Furious, End of Watch is a typically no-holds-barred, gritty action thriller that puts the viewer in an LAPD cop car manned by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. They play Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, two young officers determined to undermine crime and violence on the extremely mean streets of South Central LA.
Taylor is also filming their activities for a film project, a device that allows writer-director David Ayer the freedom to shoot the film in a Cinéma vérité fashion, which gives End of Watch a strong sense of intimacy, urgency and immediacy. It’s obvious from the off that these guys are best buddies, and as the story develops and the violence grows, tension builds up as the film heads towards an inevitably bloody conclusion.
So what separates End of Watch from all the other LA-based cop movies that have done the rounds over the last 20 years? Other than its Blair Witch-like style, not a lot, but if you enjoy watching angry homeboys waving guns and using swear words as verbs, nouns, adjectives and pauses, this is yours and you’re welcome to it.
Personally, I’m tired of such films: the cops try hard, but it’s all futile as guns plus drugs equals an endless cycle of death. End of Watch ticks a lot of teenage, testosterone-fuelled boxes, but it left me as cold as the mounting pile of corpses on show. Bang-bang, f***-f***, so what? Am I meant to be impressed by yet another nihilistic urban nightmare?
All I feel is numb.