“End of Watch” is a refreshingly original take on the traditional “buddy cop” genre. Writer-director David Ayer, known for such films as “Training Day,” “S.W.A.T.,” and “The Fast and the Furious,” creates a story that is much more involving and entertaining than most others of its kind.
Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Peña) are best friends and officers for the LAPD. They have been a team since being in the police academy years ago and even Taylor’s girlfriend and Zavala’s wife are best friends. They are incredibly passionate about their jobs and aren’t afraid to lay their lives on the line or bend a few rules on the way to getting the job done.
The two officers are the clowns of their department, constantly pulling pranks and making lighthearted jokes. However, when they are transferred to a crime filled Mexican district of Los Angeles, all lightheartedness that exists in their job suddenly disappears.
After a few busts and acts of heroism, the partners find themselves playing detective, something that is not a part of their job description. In doing so, the duo sticks their noses where they shouldn’t and inadvertently opens Pandora’s Box, unleashing the wrath of the Mexican Drug Cartel upon them.
After one particularly gruesome bust at a Cartel house, an officer of an unspecified government agency tells them, “I am not supposed to say anything, but be careful. You just tugged on the tail of a snake and it’s going to turn around and bite you back.”
This is a true statement. After all, they may be police officers, but they are not immortal. The Cartel plays by its own rules. This becomes evident when they put a hit on the Taylor and Zavala, unbeknownst to them. This sets up an emotionally charged, rollercoaster finish to a film that is incredibly entertaining from the very start.
The characters in this film are not especially developed, but this film is not a character study, rather, it is an in-depth look into the relationships and hardships associated with those who serve to protect.
“End of Watch” serves to remind us that policemen are people just like us. They are more than just a uniform. They may not agree with the law, but their job is to enforce it. Officer Taylor states at the beginning of the film, “I am fate with a badge and a gun, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad.
We are the police.” “End of Watch” is one of the best police films of recent memory.