End of Watch, by Exclusive Media Group and Open Road Films is an excellent example of how solid directing and great performances can resurrect a dying film shooting style. Director David Ayer (Training Day, The Fast and the Furious), Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña do a fabulous job of bringing the characters, Brian Taylor and Mike Zavalla to life in this dark tale of LA cops vs Mexican Cartel.
Shot documentary-style (a film process that has recently been overused and poorly used in independent films) End of Watch follows the deadly dangerous daily grind of two gung-ho police officers in Los Angeles. We experience life with these two cop who are brothers as much as they are partners and friends. They have a zest for life that carries over into their work, and ultimately puts them up against unfathomable criminal forces with more power and more committed to winning than they are. The docu-style also catches the hubbub of heretofore unseen aspects of the LAPD like the inexperienced rookie who gets pummeled to near death by a grotesquely obese Mexican criminal, the experienced beat cop who gets stabbed in the eye and the cops who arrive too late to save their brethren.
The documentary-style is legitimate in this movie as Gyllenhaal's character is helping with a family member's report, and thus, convinces his partner, Peña, to wear miniature GoPro-type cameras to document their daily activities. This style catches the cops at their most extreme moments, when they are angry, dedicated, fearful and fighting for their lives. David Ayer and cinematographer Roman Vasyanov do a wonderful job catching the action with perfect camera placement without losing the vérité feel of the docudrama.
End of Watch is daring, dark and deliciously real. I highly recommend it for all fans of procedural dramas and those who respect a well-made cop movie