'End of Watch' an eyeopener

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

End of Watch is a cop thriller set in the mean streets of South-Central Los Angeles. You know better than to wish for a happy ending.

The story is centred on patrol partners who have become best friends, and so completely does filmmaker David Ayer get you to invest in these characters that you'll watch half the film with your hands over your face.

It's not that it's scary (although it is), it's that you care so much about what happens to these two guys.

Jake Gyllenhaal is officer Taylor and Michael Pena is officer Zavala, gung-ho cops who truly believe in what they do. They're unorthodox, maybe, but they're enthusiastic. Officer Taylor is filming his daily routine, verite style, as part of a personal project he's working on; the result is plenty of you-are-there, hand-held camera work that takes a viewer into the heart of the action.

Officers Taylor and Zavala are good at what they do. Taylor is particularly alert to the possibilities of everyday police work, and so these cops wind up stumbling into criminal activity that's outside their ken -- specifically, the work of Mexican drug cartels making inroads north. The murder and mayhem that go along with this are shocking even to seasoned cops on the beat.

Besides watching the men combat crime, End of Watch celebrates their friendship and their romantic lives, with family scenes and wives and girlfriends, all of which contribute to the general sense of familiarity. And then to the general sense of unease, as their work takes them deeper into criminal activity that puts them in over their heads.

End of Watch is awash in dread and tension, and it never lets up. It only increases.

Filmmaker David Ayer, who wrote and directed, is also the writer behind Training Day, Dark Blue and Harsh Times. He knows his way around the mean streets and he knows about cops, and it's all there in End of Watch. It's all soaked in testosterone, too. We mean that in the best way.

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

This film is rated 18A


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