If you are a fan of reality television, then at some point in your life you have probably caught sight of the famous show, “C.O.P.S“. Even if you have never watched the show, most of you will probably already have a good idea of how the show operates. Some of the television show is actual footage used from the on-board patrol car camera. The rest of it is mainly shot from a documentary crew following the police around on their daily endeavors. Jake Gyllenhaal‘s latest film, “End of Watch” follows the same concept…to a degree.
Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) works for the Los Angeles police department. He had the idea to document his life as an officer with cleverly placed video cameras on his pocket, as well as his partner, Mike (Michael Pena). While out on a routine patrol, these officers stop a car, only to find guns and a load of cash, which inevitably puts a hit out on their life from a serious drug cartel. Ever since this happens, Taylor and Mike continually run into truly shocking scenes that seemingly deepen in seriousness. It’s a fight for their lives in this dramatic action flick.
While this film has the initial feeling of another found-footage film, that’s not entirely the idea. The view itself does switch to our antagonists here and there, as well as having the typical establishing shot. No matter how much the perspective changes, it continues to feel like found-footage, as if our key characters are following around these gangsters with their video cameras while somehow managing to stay out of their line of sight. It may be an overall feeling of the film, but it does mix with the officer’s footage, giving this idea of consistency the feeling of inconsistency. The question emerges of what purpose there really was using home video-style with the police if they were going to do the same thing with the opponents without them even having a camera. They should have instead only used found footage for the police, and used a different perspective for the antagonists for a more complete and satisfactory result.
The other problem you may find with this film was how convenient can it really be to be an officer for the LAPD? There was a scene where the police literally picked a police report at random to investigate, resulting in bodies and decapitations. The audience may feel as if the movie took the believability slightly too far. There should have been some kind of other minor scenes to dull it back down to believability, because if this is what every cop in LAPD is going to be dealing with on a daily basis, it may be a better idea to let the FBI take a look at the city in general, because something has to be wrong. This does not mean that there was no positives in this film, because there absolutely was.
Regardless of its flaws, the movie had a remarkable sense of honesty that accompanied it. While police may not go through these types of ordeals daily or as often as they did in this film, it is possible for police to run into grisly scenes, and the way that they handled the situations and reacted to them feels real. It also relayed the trust and love that police have for each other and how they see each other as family. So in some respects it does feel inconsistent and unrealistic, but in other cases it feels intense and realistic, more so for the latter.
The actors were able to portray each scene as it should have been portrayed. For example when they wanted a scene to come off as shocking, that’s how it was portrayed. When they wanted a scene to feel funny, it was funny, and when they wanted it to feel lighthearted, that’s exactly what came off. The acting was stellar, as Gyllenhaal has consistently proven his abilities throughout the years.
“End of Watch” really is a thrill, and as an audience we want to know what happens next, and if these two will make it out alive. With films that try to involve as many realistic scenarios as possible, you really don’t know how it will end up unless it is actually based on a well known true story. For that, the film is unpredictable, which is almost always a joy to watch.
Overall, yes the film had flaws, primarily speaking with it’s decision on how to deal with the visuals, and how those blended in together. It also had issues with realism, but at the same time had a realistic aspect as well. It’s a great film and should be watched for a number of reasons. If you don’t have it already, this film may win your respect to local police officers everywhere.
“End of Watch” comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Jan. 22!