Director and screenwriter David Ayer is doing what he does best — cop drama. His latest film, End of Watch tackles the mean streets of L.A. through the eyes of two officers, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Like Training Day and Dark Blue before it, the film takes a brutally honest look at life on the beat.

The Players

  • Director: David Ayer
  • Writer: David Ayer
  • Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, America Ferrera, Cody Horn
  • Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov
  • Original Music by: David Sardy

The Plot:

Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) are members of the Los Angeles Police Department. They’re brothers in arms who are more like family than co-workers. During a routine stop, they stumble upon suspects linked to a major drug and human trafficking operation. Due to their discovery, they become targets of every gang member in the city.

The Good:

  • Performances: Who knew Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena could embody L.A. police officers with such ease? The actors performances are so genuine you really believe they’re in the profession.
  • Pace: The film follows the day-to-day interactions of two officers. On paper, that sounds mundane but on screen it’s not. Ayer is able to balance action with character moments to keep the film entertaining but grounded.
  • Tone: End of Watch is a lot funnier than you might expect. It’s marketed as a hardcore cop drama, which it is, but there’s more to it. There are many humorous moments that stem from Gyllenhaal and Pena’s palpable chemistry.
  • Cinematography: Prior to the film’s release, there was already buzz about its unique cinematography. There’s a lot of handheld camerawork, which allows viewers to experience the film in a whole new way. There’s an intimacy there that most movies never capture.
  • Story: End of Watch doesn’t have a traditional plot. There’s not an obvious arc that we see coming a mile away. There are hints of impending doom but it doesn’t overshadow the whole film. For the most part, we’re watching things as they happen. It mimics reality. Sometimes obstacles come straight out of left field, and that keeps us on our toes.

The Bad:

  • None: All around, End of Watch has little to no problems.


End of Watch is easily one of the best films 2012. Its gritty performances make you forget it’s fiction, and the story has surprises at every turn. It’s definitely worth your time and money.

The Rating: 10/10

End of Watch opens in theaters September 21.

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Will you be seeing End of Watch this weekend?