End of Watch [Blu-Ray] David Ayers

End of Watch [Blu-Ray] David Ayers
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When purporting to employ a gimmicky conceit like shooting in "documentary style" to capture an enhanced sense of realism, a little stylistic cohesion goes a long way. Writer of The Fast and the Furious (though he'd rather be known for Training Day), David Ayers doesn't even play by his own rules, incorporating inexplicable aerial shots and angles that don't jive with where the camera is established, even when considering the potential for practical hidden units used by on-the-job policemen. The inconsistencies in this method of untraditional cinematography are even more frustrating than they are distracting. Likewise, the story, ostensibly meant to give a gritty, realistic look at the life of cops on a rough beat, relies far too much on dramatic contrivances to be taken with the grand import it intends, no matter the number of caveats slung around regarding the uncommonly dangerous neighbourhood the action is set in. And that's unfortunate — for the considered character work they achieve, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena deserve better than the clichéd melodrama they're saddled with acting out. End of Watch commences with a car chase and subsequent bloody shoot-out between two long-time partners and a bunch of thugs while a voiceover makes pompous boasts about busting anyone who won't adhere to the letter of the law. After the incident is deemed a "clean shooting," officers Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Pena) return to duty with inflated egos. The dangers of adopting this sort of swinging dick strut is a big part of the story, but one gets the sense that David Ayers admires this brand of peacock machismo. Taylor is arbitrarily taking a film course as an excuse to be holding a camera much of the time, which rarely factors into the greater story with any significance. Looking for respect, Zavala drops his badge and gun early on to throw down with a criminal, "keeping it G," as it were, a point Ayers is eager to mention as something he knows happens in real life in his often contradictory commentary track. When the posturing is toned down and Taylor and Zavala are bullshitting like real co-workers with a deep, loving friendship, the movie has a naturalistic charm that's immediately bulldozed as soon as the try-hard duo stumble into situations that let them act like super-cops. It swiftly escalates from the horrific but believable (like extreme, drug-induced parental neglect) to the laughably convenient (the one easy call they take turns into something out of Breaking Bad), undermining the intent expressed in the inane and utterly superfluous featurettes included in the bonus features. A few deleted scenes add nothing of interest to a movie with too many throwaway ones already and an alternate ending demonstrates the degree of uncertainly Ayers had about how he wanted this overblown morality tale to play out. (VVS)