“End Of Watch” is approximately 99 minutes of potentially pulse pounding action and suspense and 10 minutes of "This is it?!?!"" payoff.
The movie has been advertised in the above trailer and others as a gritty, action packed movie about two cops who through the course of duty cross a Mexican drug cartel and now must "watch their 6" (slang for watch your back) from violent retribution.
This, by itself is a very interesting, compelling premise. Then add in the fact that the film was written and directed by David Ayers, the man behind (either as writer or director) other successful LA cop movies such as “Training Day,” “Dark Blue,” and “Street Kings” to name a few.
Ayers was the screenwriter of “The Fast and Furious,” it's a very exciting movie to look forward toward. Unfortunately, the execution of the idea got buried in over an hour and a half of attempting to build a rapport between the audience and the main characters. Except for a high-speed chase that opens the first three minutes, almost all of the action happens, literally, at the very tail end of the movie.
We're subjected to extended time and conversations with Gyllenhaal and Peña as they unsuccessfully attempt to establish believable chemistry between their characters. Although, as typical of a David Ayers script, the dialogue is crisp and believable and captures (what I imagine) realistic cop jargon, the supposed friendship of the two characters feels forced, artificial and contrived.
The majority of the movie focuses on that relationship between LA police partners Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) over the course of many months. (Since there is never a reference to a timeline anywhere throughout the film, which was a bit annoying, I originally thought the movie took place over a few days.) We see the officers' daily routine via lapel video cameras and a handheld camera Taylor carries for a class project in which he's involved.
The cameras document the officers as they serve warrants, make traffic stops and drug busts and assist fellow officers (including an almost unrecognizable America Ferrera from “Ugly Betty”) policing Precinct 13. The neighborhood is sometimes dangerous and difficult to patrol since a small Hispanic street gang's presence and influence grows as Mexican drug cartels infiltrate South Central Los Angeles.
Colorful background characters are littered throughout the film including a Ayers' film regular casting: former LA Blood Gang member Cle Shaheed Sloan as Mr. Tre. As Sloan's face is recognizable to fans of director David Ayers' previous films and from Sloan's work in the LA police TV drama “Southland,” this film is just as familiar. It's not as grity, intriguing, complex nor exciting as any of his other, better films; just as familiar. The frantic ending is so similar to at least three other Ayer films that at the point of the film where the poorly built tension should finally peak, that it generates about as much suspense as a National Geographic special documenting zebras crossing a den of lions.