Monday, October 15, 2012

End of Watch

Two young police officers (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena), brothers-in-arms prepared to die for each other in the blink of an eye, patrol the most dangerous neighborhood of South Central L.A. and stumble onto a series of narcotics players, continually drawing the ire of a Mexican drug cartel. "End of Watch" is a harsh, often brutal film from writer/director David Ayers, who knows the terrain well and has crafted similar, exceptional entries ("Training Day", "Harsh Times"), and here elevates the material by investing in the humanizing of his lead actors. I have read criticisms of the "gimmicky", hand-held approach to the film (Gyllenhaal's character films much of it as a project for his pre-law class), and although I was apprehensive going into the film, I found it to be one of the rare instances where it actually enhanced the story, allowing further insight into these people's lives. Both lead actors are excellent. It is nice to see Michael Pena deliver such a deep performance in a worthy role, and they are backed up strongly by Anna Kendrick and Natalie Martinez, who play the love interests, and David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, and Cody Horn who play other members of the department.