End of Watch
by Tony Medley
Run time 108
Bill Ayer seems to like attacking the police in general and the LAPD in
particular. One of his prior films was writing the script for director
Antoine Fuqua's Training Day (2001) that highlighted bad cop
Denzell Washington. Training Day did not present an appealing
picture of the policemen who made up the LAPD.
about the cop genre— we haven’t seen what they really do at work,” says
Ayer. “We’ve seen what Hollywood thinks they do. We’ve seen every other
cop movie… where you gotta have the scene where two cops argue about
jurisdiction.” He wanted to show what the job of being police in a bad
part of a big city is really like.
“These guys see
mayhem and carnage and are faced with incredible psychologically
destructive situations, and then they have to go home and put work into
a relation three-tier ship,” says Ayer. “Somebody who can do that
successfully to me is a fascinating person.”
But the problem
with this film is that Ayer shows the typical LAPD cop as being an
over-the-top vulgarian who can't utter three words in a row without two
of them being the F word. One of the most foul-mouthed movies I have
ever had the misfortune to sit through, this presents an LAPD comprised
of immature people straight out of Animal House. That's a shame
because the action is intense, the cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael
Peña) are shown to have good hearts, and the incidents that they have to
deal with are shocking.
Ayer necessarily compartmentalizes
the things that ordinary policemen have to go through in a day's work
and how it affects their humanity. Gyllenhaal and Peña face more combat in
the short time covered by the film than a patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The film goes
into the private lives of both officers, showing Peña's wife, Gabba
(Natalie Martinez) and the relationship between Gyllenhaal and his
girlfriend, Janet (Anna Kendrick), apparently trying to humanize them.
But from the way they speak and act when they are on the job, it takes a
lot more to "humanize" them than just showing that they are capable of
loving relationships with women.
If one can ignore all the profanity
and childish behavior, the film is tense and involving, if extremely violent. Both Gyllenhaal and Peña give terrific performances and Ayer directs with a
fine sense of pace.