Friday, September 21, 2012

End of Watch [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  Roger Ebert (4 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

End of Watch (written and directed by David Ayer) is an Oscar caliber "gritty police drama" filmed entirely using "non professional" video equipment (mounted squad car cams, hand helds, pin cams, security cams, etc) that give the film an often "in your face" "YOU are THERE" feel that _works_ so stunningly well that the film ought to get nominations for (honestly) let's see ... Best Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing (!) as well as Best Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Best Supporting Actor (Michael Peña).

The film is about two LAPD officers, Brian Taylor (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (played by Michael Peña), who serve as partners in one of the roughest districts of Los Angeles -- South Central.  Brian is portrayed as being something of a "video nut."  The other officers find this to various degrees annoying.  Some complain that it's "unprofessional" / "against LAPD policy." Others, including his own partner Mike just kinda find it stupid but basically go along.  (Both Brian and Mike often simply wear small black SAN-card "pin cams" which capture the video that we see).

Annoying and arguably dangerous this would probably be to the police officers in real life, THE EFFECT IS JUST INCREDIBLE FOR THE VIEWERS OF THIS FILM.  We honestly get to feel like we're _right there_ in the squad-car with the officers as they "B.S." though most of their shifts.  We also get to be _right there_ with the two police officers as they go about their policing duties, responding to calls, investigating complaints, and yes breaking down a few doors, throwing and receiving a few punches / and occasionally exchanging gun-fire in the course of arresting assorted bad-guys / thugs / gang-members.

But between such action they also talk.  Mike is married to Gabby (played by Natalie Martinez) his one and only / high school sweetheart. Brian begins the film as single but finds and gets increasingly involved with a girl-friend, Janet (played by Anna Kendrick), who (mild spoiler alert ...) he eventually marries.  SINCE I WORK IN A CATHOLIC PARISH at the SOUTH EASTERN EDGE OF CHICAGO that is loaded with city workers including nearly 100 police officers and their families, I can attest that the DIALOGUE IN THESE SCENES IS COMPLETELY REALISTIC.  My hat off honestly to writer/director David Ayer and the cast for pulling it off.

Yet even though the principal protagonists in this film are so well crafted and so likable that many viewers would probably just to "hang with them" for more time than that allotted for a movie, alas this is a film.  So there is a story that plays out and needs to get resolved by the film's end.

I'm actually _not_ going to tell readers anything about the story that plays itself out in the course of the film except (1) that it does play itself out quite violently by the end and (2) the scenario we watch play out is _probably_ one that's already on the radar of strategic planners within law enforcement in the United States today and one that would probably keep a few of them awake at night at times.  Like the rest of the film, the story that plays out is a pretty darn realistic (and problematic/worrisome) one.  

NOW A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION TO PARENTS: This is a legitimately R-rated movie, above all on account of its often graphic violence.  So please don't take your preteens to this movie.  I would imagine that quite a few of them would be rather shaken.  Then with teens, parents use your discretion.  That's why it's rated R.

But also then A SPECIAL NOTE OF CAUTION TO PARENTS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT: The police officers in this film are shown as having families.  And yes, SOME OF THE POLICE OFFICERS DON'T MAKE IT (are shown being killed) in this film.  I would imagine that this could be quite traumatic for a pre-teen (or even a more sensitive teen) with a parent in law enforcement to watch.  My sense is that that most parents who work in law enforcement would immediately know what I'm talking about here.  I'm saying here that this movie could be a rough one for kids with one or more parents working in law enforcement.

That said, this is honestly a GREAT police drama and I fully expect that this will be recognized come "award season" (at least in the nominations phase) in January.

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