'End Of Watch' is David Ayer's third feature as a director and most definitely his best. After cutting his teeth writing tough cop films like 'Training Day' he finally made his way behind the camera with the interesting but not very memorable 'Harsh Time's' a film which is best known for its great performance from Christian Bale in the lead role.
'Watch' is a very different beast to Ayers first two films, it follows the lives of two cops working the beat in mean streets of South Central, California. The two cops are officer Taylor and officer Zavala, the former is played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the latter is played by Michael Peña.
The two men are best friends and feel like they have known each other for decades. Their relationship is key to the success of the movie because their fantastic chemistry helps them perform some of the funniest dialogue of the year which helps this to be funnier then any big-studio comedy out this year. This chemistry is also crucial in the films more dramatic scenes.
In most cop movies along these lines the main driving force of the plot is the grey area which exists were police officers are forced to act like criminals in order to fulfill their duties. In 'Watch' the line is split down the middle CopsVSCriminals is GoodVSBad. There is never any doubt about whether our antagonists actions are honorable our not, they are simply doing their job in the best of their ability, in the worst environment imaginable.
The only blunder Ayer has made is by choosing to shoot all of the film in the style of found footage, this is explained at the start by Taylor proclaiming to the camera that he is taking a film studies and that is why he is documenting everything. That is fine as an explanation but it falls apart when the same POV style is used in shots would be impossible for Taylor to film. This style can become irritating when all you is a viewer want do is watch the performances and not be distracted by the consistently changing point of view.
The movie also spends too much time on a gang of wannabe gangsters who develop an unhealthy interest in our two anti-heroes. These are the only parts of the feature that fall into the land of stereo-types and detract from the grittily-realistic tone of the rest of the film.
'End Of Watch' is the type of cop film we don't get anymore, it manages to combine sections of genuine humor with moments of scarily real humanity. Its gut punch of an ending is heartbreaking cinema that will leave you stunned and satisfied. Ayer has made fantastic film with this and has gotten two of the years best performance out of his leads and despite a few niggles has created a mini-masterpiece.