Whoop, Whoop It's The Sound Of The Police...David Ayer’s New Action-Filled Police Drama Is Raw Enough To Make It a Serious Contender For Action Movie Of The Year

Words By Daisy Mostyn

The buddy-cop genre has become something of a stalwart of 21st Century American cinema, so much so that these days it can be difficult to find a refreshing take on the brothers-in-blue scenario. The perfect frame for big-budget action-comedies like Bad Boys and Rush Hour, the genre often forces drama and realism to take a backseat to requisite cheesy Hollywood bromance and one-liners. However, so much can’t be said for David Ayer’s latest offering End of Watch, a gritty action-thriller that explores the police-car brotherhood and on-the-job hazards of an ultra-realistic police pairing, and is a film more akin to the likes of Training Day (which Ayer also directed) than Starsky and Hutch.

Brian (Gyllenhall) and Mike (Peña) are two beat cops who, through a penchant for action and heroism, find themselves on the bad side of the city’s drug cartels. This is both a vigilante movie and a war film of an almost equal ilk to Hurt Locker or Platoon, in which the forces of good take on the forces of evil – and it doesn’t hold back on just how evil the drug-peddling gangs are (their kingpin is called, helpfully, “Big Evil”, because apparently ‘[his] evil is big’). Gyllenhall and Peña are both excellent, much of the film’s success is credit to their natural chemistry, and it is their camaraderie as “brothers” that is convincing enough to transcend the clichéd. Gyllenhall has proved himself to be a diverse and impressive actor since the days of Donnie Darko, and here is perfect as the peacocking alpha-male to Peña’s wise-cracking and honest family man. This film is less good cop/bad cop than good cop all round, and the decency and heroism of the two leads is never questioned – they are just two honest lads doing their best to protect and serve on the dangerous streets of LA.

Although End of Watch may seem like a path well-trodden for Ayer, who is a dab hand at LA-based cop dramas, the director ventures into unknown territory with his choice of the “found footage” aesthetic for his movie. The angle is one that has been often adopted of late, and can be a gimmicky and restrictive technique for filmmakers who stringently adhere to its guidelines. Here, however, Ayer deftly incorporates the method to his gain, and it works by nature of not being too confined or controlled by the form: he doesn’t religiously stick to it when it could be a hindrance (like other recent films like Cloverfield or Chronicle where the technique can be exhausting) and instead the trope adds to the excitement and suspense of the action.

All in all, End of Watch is vivid, exciting, and raw, and ticks enough boxes to make it a strong contender for action movie of the year.

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