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Old 09-28-2012, 04:41 PM   #1
sshuttari
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Default End of Watch - Review Thread

End of Watch




This is the best cop movie in quite awhile. Not only that, it's about street cops, not flashy detectives. This is no good cop/bad cop dance. These aren't rebellious, power hungry cops run amok flashing their badges. Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Pena) are simply dedicated cops who are committed to serving the mission and surviving another day.

This film works for two reasons: the performances of Gyllenhaal and Pena, and the amazing writing and directing from David Ayer. Mr. Ayer is best known as the writer of Training Day, but also wrote Dark Blue and S.W.A.T, and directed Street Kings. He grew up in south central Los Angeles, and clearly has a talent for bringing real life to the screen.

Taylor and Pena are long time partners who have the familiarity and banter down to a science. These are guys who become brothers based on spending everyday together and trusting the other with their lives. These two scoff at the department mandate to write more traffic tickets, and instead find themselves smack dab in the middle of a Mexican drug cartel. That's not a good place for two street cops and they soon wind up on the wrong list of some really bad people.

We see shootouts, car chases, chases on foot, rescues, traffic stops, house searches and just about anything else that these heroes are subjected to on a daily basis ... just trying to maintain some sense of civility on their beat. No matter how frustrated you get with your job, put yourself in their "comfortable footwear" and imagine rolling up on "big evil", who wants nothing more than to make you suffer.

There is a really interesting thing going on with video cameras. Taylor is filming his daily activities for a class he is taking, while this group of bad guys is also seen filming their nightly activities against humanity. Also, the supporting cast doesn't play a huge role, but David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Natalie Martinez and Anna Kendrick are all solid. The exception is Cody Horn who is way out of her element, and quite a distraction.

Pena and Gyllenhaal are a joy to watch and strike the necessary bond required for this movie to work. We never once doubt that these guys are brothers and fully trust worthy. Good guys doing a tough job in a bad part of the world. I highly recommend this movie.

****/*****
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Dark Knights Rises has its problems but its not garbage. **** like Scary Movie is garbage. Cheaply made with little artistic merit.

All those others had ambition poured into them. That alone makes them worthy of at least considering their strengths and weaknesses.

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Old 09-28-2012, 04:50 PM   #2
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Its getting good reviews but the trailers/clips I've seen don't back that up. Call me skeptically optimistic I guess.
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Old 09-28-2012, 04:53 PM   #3
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I haven't seen any clips or trailers I walked in blind with a friend who is a cop and wanted to see it... He said this "this is the first cop movie, that actually feels like a cop movie"

He has way more of an idea on something like that than I would...
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Dark Knights Rises has its problems but its not garbage. **** like Scary Movie is garbage. Cheaply made with little artistic merit.

All those others had ambition poured into them. That alone makes them worthy of at least considering their strengths and weaknesses.

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Old 09-28-2012, 05:59 PM   #4
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End of Watch(9/26/2012)
In 2001 a film called Training Day came out and turned into a pretty substantial sleeper hit. It wasn’t an outright blockbuster at the box office, but it earned respectable cash and it also earned Denzel Washington a well deserved Oscar. I also liked Washington’s performance a lot, but I wasn’t a fan of the rest of the film. Antoine Fuqua directed the film well but its script was, well, stupid. It felt less like the streetwise thriller that it was sold as and more like a privileged suburban film student’s idea of what “gritty realism” was and it ended with a dumb action movie finale that seemed to be contrary to everything that came before. That script was written by a young man named David Ayer who was raised on the streets of Champaign, Illinois, Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda, Maryland. After writing Training Day he made a career of making what appeared to be similarly “gritty” films like Harsh Times and Street Kings. However his latest cop thriller, End of Watch, has gotten very strong reviews, strong enough for me to give him another chance. I was hoping I’d see some growth in Ayer, but as it turns out he really hasn’t changed much since Training Day.

End of Watch follows a pair of uniformed LAPD officers named Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) over the course of a year or so on their beat in South Central. The film establishes early on that officer Taylor is a pre-law student when he’s not policing and as an elective he’s been taking film studies. As part of this film study he’s decided to make a documentary about his day job and begins bringing a camera along on his patrols. He and Zavala also wear a pair of very expensive looking mini-cameras in their shirt pockets to pick up what he can’t film with his hand-held camera. The audience is clearly being told that what they’re about to see is a “found-footage” film, the latest entry in the growing sub-genre of films that are made to appear like what the audiences is watching has been filmed as they happened by the characters.

The thing is, this isn’t a found-footage film. Instead of being strictly made up of footage filmed by Taylor and Zavala, End of Watch quickly indulges in a variety of shots and angles that could have never been shot by either of the officers. All of the footage is done in a hand-held style and it almost always has the same consumer-grade digital video quality and the film does continue to use footage that was meant to have come from the cameras the officers are carrying throughout its run-time along with an assortment of faux-security camera footage and footage implausibly shot by criminals in the midst of illegal activity, but whenever he feels like it Ayer says “screw it” and throws in footage that is clearly omniscient.

Ayer was right to free himself up in this regard, a strictly “found-footage” approach would have been needlessly limiting, but I frankly don’t understand why he bothered to incorporate the “found-footage” element in the first place if he wasn’t going to stick with it. The presences of cameras adds nothing whatsoever to the story and the idea of cops and even criminals carrying around cameras in all these dangerous situations strains credibility. I had similar problems with Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, which also set itself up as a faux-documentary until it abruptly decided it didn’t want to be, but at least when it was done with the gimmick it had the sense to drop it altogether rather than have it coming in and out throughout the entire runtime of the film. The basic hand-held style is used to good effect a number of times throughout the film and would have probably worked well had Ayer not wasted time with all the needless found-footage stuff reminiscent of Brian De Palma’s ill-fated Iraq-war project Redacted.

The film does do a pretty good job setting up a rapport between the two officers, who prove to be fairly crude but ultimately likable jock-types. We spend a lot of time taking these guys ribbing each other between calls and the film also does a good job showing some of the minutia of police work, but this is all stuff we’ve seen before elsewhere. The film is a lot less successful in its depiction of the criminals that the officers encounter. There’s a particularly silly encounter early in the film in which one of the officers takes off his gear and challenges a gang member to a fist fight, the officer wins and the criminal later praises the officer for “keeping it gangster.” The behavior of the less personable criminals is even less believable, particularly a small gang of Latino thugs who look like they’re being played by UCLA students even though they use an obnoxiously large amount of profanity.

Occasionally the officers make statements like “some cops go their whole career without pulling a gun” or “a vast amount of police work is standing around,” but as the film progresses the script still has the officers getting into large number of gun fights and at the film’s end they end up in a large scale shootout against questionably motivated criminals which is even more ridiculous than the finale of Training Day. This scene adheres to almost all the clichés of dumb action films (the bad guys can’t seem to land a single shot while the good guys seem to have expert marksmanship), and this more or less kills any sense of realism that the film has tried to build up. The basic problem I had with everything I’ve seen of Ayers’ work, he acts like he’s making hard hitting movies about urban crime but he’s really just making middling action films and that’s particularly offensive in this film because its visual style is supposed to scream “authenticity” by its very nature.

For a better look at the lives of uniformed LAPD officers I’d direct readers to the criminally under-appreciated TNT drama “Southland.” People have been saying for a while that television has been evolving to a point where the best programs rival what can be seen in theaters, but I’ve never seen an example where a T.V. show that’s this comparable is so much better than a well received film. “Southland” has characters that are similarly likable but also a lot deeper and more interesting, crime stories that are exciting but more plausible, and a handheld stile that is similarly intense but also much less distracting. It also doesn’t get bogged down by mockumentary silliness or contrived plotlines that seem to be way above the pay-grade of a couple of street cops. I’d recommend any two episodes of that show over this film in its entirety any day, and TNT isn’t going to charge you ten dollars for a ticket.
** out of Four
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:06 AM   #5
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According to me It is the best movie. All the character are good in this movie. Graphic and music are amazing in this movie. And The rate of this movie 8/10.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sshuttari View Post
I haven't seen any clips or trailers I walked in blind with a friend who is a cop and wanted to see it... He said this "this is the first cop movie, that actually feels like a cop movie"

He has way more of an idea on something like that than I would...
Which is why I'm definitely gonna see it. I thought Knocked Up looked stupid based on the previews but its one of my favorite comedies. Marketing lies. Alot.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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Just finished this and thought it was pretty class. The performances of the 2 leads drive the film and it really felt like they had been through all this **** together.

It was parts funny, exhilarating, sad and engrossing. The only major issue I had was with the handheld cameras. It was ok too start off with once it started changing from the cameras in the film to an actual camera filming it should have stayed that way instead of changing back and forth and having the gang members needlessy carrying around a camera of their own.

Other than though it was a cracking watch.

8/10
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:07 PM   #8
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Finally got around to seeing this. Definitely the best cop movie we have had in years and, well, sshatari said everything I would have - the performances were solid, the story compelling, and the script really impressive. If I did .5s, I would give this a 8.5, but I gotta stick to my guns on this one.

8/10
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:45 PM   #9
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Am I the only one who thought this movie was effing lame?
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Am I the only one who thought this movie was effing lame?
Nope. I believe I gave it a D.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:53 PM   #11
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It got a 85% on RT, so take that for what it's worth.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:58 PM   #12
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Saw this the other night and loved it. "Cup 'em and suck 'em"

Didn't expect the ending to turn out quite the way it did, but it was well done.

8/10
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:01 PM   #13
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Am I the only one who thought this movie was effing lame?
It was OK. Saw it over the weekend. I'm not sure what the shaky cam added to the story. Realism? You don't need a shaky cam for that. I enjoyed the characters' interactions, but it isn't anything special beyond that.
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