You should know a few things before going into End of Watch.
First, this movie is hyper realistic. (And that should tell you everything else I’m about to say.) Second, it’s beyond foul. Besides the 325+ F-bombs (no, I didn’t count them, but somebody did over here), you’ll have to grit it out through a hellish amount of grimy sex blabber and oh-would-you-please-just-shut-up yuckities. Third, it’s about cops, cops, cops. So unless cops are on your Coolest Dudes On Earth list, or unless you’ve got a built-in ear filter, you’ll probably want to avoid this movie like you would a sewer.
So here’s what was good. End of Watch is, plain and simple, a two-hour salute to cops — specifically, good cops, specifically, good cops working one of the toughest regions in LA. You’ll have a lot of respect for what police officers are up against, and it won’t be because of all the hyped-up action and glamorous shoot-outs, because there’s none of that. The tension is real. Danger, real. Violence, real.
And a lot of the movie isn’t action anyway. It’s humdrum patrols. Banter in the locker room. Dancing at a wedding. Having babies. Grabbing sodas at the gas station. Standing around, waiting for the next thing to happen. But it all feels real, and thanks to easy, natural dialogue from director/writer David Ayer (who also penned Training Day…no surprise) and fabulous chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Peña, it’s all fascinating. And powerful.
Main characters are also (sex-story swapping excluded) quite decent blokes, especially in how they relate to their families. A lot of movies feature washed-up cops with thrashed and trashed marriages, which do exist in real life, but you know what, we also find faithful husbands and fathers who are stronger in the field because things are squared away at home, and that’s what you get in End of Watch.
Biggest critique on the actual story? The end. Or more precisely, the pacing of the end. If this movie is a hats-off to cops, then Ayer should have slowed the funeral way, way down. (Sorry, did I say there were spoilers? It is called “end of watch.”) Just nix the last five-minute flashback, which would have taken care of almost half the movie’s vulgarities, and let’s have a little more respect for those who protect and serve.
So. What I liked, I loved, I want to watch again, and I want to watch again now. I’ll buy the DVD just to savor a third of it.