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Tanya Khoury: Drama in uniform
October 26, 2012
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Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star in David Ayer’s End of Watch and just like Training Day 11 years earlier, Ayer takes us back to South Central Los Angeles with characters in uniform. Taylor and Zavala are brothers in arms, partners and L.A.P.D.’s rising stars.

From the get go you can tell that this will be one of the good ones, from the filming style to the dialogue and further into the setting. It has all the ingredients of a class A cop thriller, gripping performances and script writing wittiness that are meant to be enjoyed at the theatre.

The story revolves around those two police officers, their day to day lives revolving around how they spend their day in the roughest parts of Los Angeles. Gyllenhaal’s character Taylor is the ex navy/marine all star driven officer with a knack for filmmaking, and takes his camera everywhere in order to capture the drama of the day. Peña’s character Zavala is more humble, the family man that puts on the ‘harsh’ front personality when in fact he is all gooey and sweet-natured inside. The film is action-packed from the start as each and every duty call revolves around some form of violence, all in a day’s work. Until one routine call uncovers a bigger fish, a Mexican cartel responsible for more damage than these two officers can manage on their own.

The supporting cast involves the fellow officers in the precinct (America Ferrera, David Harbour) as well as both hot shot’s love interests played by Natalie Martinez as Zavala’s wife and Anna Kendrick, Taylor’s girlfriend. All equally brilliant in their roles, and show another side to the film, revealing what these characters are like outside their constantly violent environment.

What I liked most about this film is the writing; the script is well balanced and makes up for a very simple plot. The conversations, especially the ones between the two officers, are a joy to listen to, fast-paced, witty and flowing very naturally. I have to admit that as much I love Gyllenhaal and applaud his acting abilities, I felt Peña was even more natural, he fitted his role so perfectly that I was glad he had the much deserved amount of screen time.

Let’s not forget though that this film is of a specific genre – if you are not into high paced police thrillers or do not like this themed genre then this is not for you. Ayer is a specific kind of director and he likes the whole drama within the police force. It is very evident in his trail of films throughout his career; he is exceptionally good at portraying the gruelling life that revolves around managing these rough streets. So audiences with similar tastes will definitely have a field day with the film. As it holds all the qualities of what such films should hold.

The film runs for just around 110 minutes and although I would have shaved off about 10 minutes from the story I was very satisfied with the end product. Also, I am not a talented or well sought after writer/director so my ‘directing’ abilities are purely opinion based and hold no relevance! Still, I recommend this film; the setting is brutal and the genre a dime a dozen, but the complete package is quality. A highly enjoyable film, an extremely likeable cast, and an overall treat. Keep those good films rolling, 7.8/10.
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