End of Watch – 2 stars
This is the film cops might make about themselves if they were in the business of recruiting like the military and they had a big budget. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are LA cops, and they work a beat every bit as tough as that of Sean Penn and Robert Duvall in Colors and Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day. Unlike those duos, however, these guys love each other. Brothers in blue, these two are damn near bunk mates. But they happen upon the stashes of a drug cartel, twice in between stunts of great derring do, and bad things happen. And that’s it. We see the camaraderie, the daily toll, the unbreakable bond, the heroism and some kick-ass gunplay.
There is no story to speak of, the movie doesn’t really work as a “slice of the life” exercise, the villainous Hispanic gang members are wildly cartoonish (they don’t say, “ess-Ayyyyyyy” but they come close), and director-writer David Ayer (who wrote Training Day) utilizes a distracting, ridiculous camera technique (Gyllenhaal is filming his daily activities for a class he is taking). The different vantage points juice up the action, but the technique also evokes The Office and the Paranormal Activity movies. On the plus side, the movie is occasionally thrilling and Pena and Gyllenhaal are very good.