44 Films: Film 19 of 44: End Of Watch (2012)
Film 19 of 44:
End Of Watch (2012)
Written and Directed by David Ayer.
Here's another one that is relevant to the times. End Of Watch stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Brian Taylor and Michael Pena as Miguel Zavala; two LA police officers who seem to have the most profound lucky streak in the history of cinematic law enforcement. In a matter of months, they win the allegiance of the Bloods, get awarded medals of valour and, through their street smarts and joint intuition, uncover a colossal human trafficking cartel. All of these events are captured, not just by Ayers' documentary-inspired camera, but by Officer Taylor, who has his trusty camcorder filming pretty much everything he and his partner are up to on and off duty. Coincidentally, when a Hispanic gang starts trailing the officers, we discover that they too are also documenting their exploits via camera, as is, of course, Los Angeles County itself, whose omnipresent CCTV and aerial cameras relay to us action relevant to the film's plot. Ayers cuts between all these points of view as we careen through the officers' stretch of fortune. He recognises that each perspective has its own unique instinct and tone; the overall effect being captivating and unsettling.
A story told in this fashion ought to stay focused and uncomplicated, and Ayers succeeds again. In fact, you may wonder what the point is until you get to the last act. Rest assured, everything is building up to the pyrotechnic climax. This is a film about two cops, with whom we engage with at their most dramatic, and their most quotidian. Yet, it doesn't ever have the transience of a buddy cop film or the superficiality of reality TV. Gyllenhaal and Pena's combined charm has us paying attention to them when they're driving around in their squad car talking about women, and when they're gasping for air as they rescue children from a burning house.
Overall, this film is about people and the simple essence of relationships: be they between friends, lovers, workmates or foes. Ayers treats the film's subject matter like he does his camera; stripped down so its fundamentals will show. Everyone is granted the dignity of being human, whichever side of the law they're on. You may have noticed by now the stark contradiction this film bears to real life, where blue lives (and the media) wage war on black lives, reducing them to passable statistics and predictable headlines. As real as this film aspires to be, reality is, well, a whole other narrative.
See you at No. 20!