CRIME DRAMA; 1hr 48min
STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez
Hot shots: from left, Peña and Gyllenhaal
If ever a movie intro were a contradiction in ironic terms, “Once upon a time in South Central” would be right up there. In End of Watch, written and directed by Training Day screenwriter David Ayer, Gyllenhaal and Peña are Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, LAPD pals and all-go patrolmen on the city’s seediest streets. There’s nothing much mean that the two of them haven’t seen, and they deal with it in the way of frontline soldiers, with watchful outrage on simmer-to-boil and zinger-lobbing humour to help shed some light.
Ayer’s shooting style is handheld and hectic, its plot premise being that Brian is videotaping for a film class. The effect is oddly intimate — we are literally the guys’ eyes and ears as they balance the women in their lives (Kendrick and Martinez) with nerve-shredding work that climaxes with a shocking, irredeemable impact when the guys mess with a drug-running cartel. We’ve seen the likes of that before, but these boys in blue have an all-too-human face.