End Of Watch

500 Days Of Film Reviews End Of Watch And Find A Police Dramas Up There With The Very Best

Police officers, Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) are partners and friends patrolling the streets of LA’s South Central district. 

Their days are filled with friendly in-car banter about their lives. Brain is about to have his first child, Mike wants to know if he will ever meet a girl who is right for him.

Then work intrudes. And, when it does, it is brutal, disturbing and deadly. 

Brian and Mike try to uphold the law in an area all but owned by drug cartels and criminals who shoot first and do not even care about asking questions later.

When Brian and Mike confiscate some of the cartel’s three main food groups - guns, drugs and money - they become targets marked for death.

Is It Any Good?

I absolutely loved End Of Watch. 

So much so, I am desperate to watch the film again. I just didn’t expect to enjoy this movie so much. I laughed, I was gripped by the tension and, yes, I cried in parts too.

I am now wracking my brains to think of a police drama movie that I have enjoyed as much as End Of Watch.  

So, here are five reasons why I think End Of Watch is one of the best cop drama evs... 

1. That Initial Monologue

“Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed. I think. I love. And yes I can be killed. And, although I am but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who are the same as me. They will lay down their lives for me - and I them. 

“We stand watch together. The thin blue line. Protecting the prey from the predators. The good from the bad. We are the police.” - Brian Taylor.

The start of End Of Watch is just brilliant. The opening monologue is outstanding and a really fascinating insight into what it means to be a police officer patrolling the streets.

The speech sets the scene for the stunning realism to follow.

2. That Wonderful Partnership

I love Brian and Mike. Their chemistry is fantastic and I genuinely cared about them both. 

Director, David Ayer, throws his audience straight into the dangerous chaos that forms part of Brian and Mike’s working day. Just when we feel that we can’t cope with any more tension or horror, he allows us some relief via their wonderful banter. 

Tell me, how could I not fall for both of them after watching that? They had me grinning from ear to ear one minute and on the edge of my seat the next.

Gyllenhaal and Pena are just superb. Never did I doubt that they were long-term partners. Never did I doubt that they knew each other inside and out. And never did I doubt that they would risk their lives for one another.

It is true that Brian and Mike don’t exactly play by the book. Their methods are often, well, interesting. 

However, they are not rogue, self serving or corrupt. And that came as a huge relief. I just feel that I have seen enough of that sort of police drama (and the last one I watched, Rampart, left me cold quite frankly).

I loved the fact that, despite being flawed, Brian and Mike are essentially good people. While they may struggle with the term in the film, they are both heroes in my eyes.

3. That Superb Supporting Cast

Gyllenhaal and Pena are surrounded by a brilliant supporting cast. They may not have all that much screen time, but they still turn in superb performances.

Natalie Martinez is wonderful as Mike’s wife Gabby and Anna Kendrick brings warmth and depth to the film as Janet. 


Meanwhile, I really enjoyed David Harbour’s brilliantly jaded, officer Van Hauser. And America Ferrera and Cody Horn are fantastic as fellow police officers Orozco and Davies.   

These performances made Brian and Mike’s relationship real for me and set End Of Watch apart from other same old, same old police dramas.  

4. That Tension

While I really enjoyed the humour in this film, End Of Watch also features some quite shocking and disturbing scenes. The bad guys are pretty bad. As a result, the tension is almost unbearable. 

As the film progresses, we see more of Brian and Mike in their off duty lives. As a result, I was filled with anxiety every time they went out on patrol.

5. That Camera

At the start of End Of Watch, Brian starts to record his day via a handheld camera. He explains that he is doing this for a film studies course that he is taking (He is pre-law and needs an art elective).

I have to admit that my heart sank a bit at the use of a camera as a narrative device. How many times have we seen this in movies - I am even starting to hate the term “found footage”.

Despite my initial misgivings (which did occasionally resurface), the use of camera footage (by Brian and also by the criminal gangs) is really effective in End Of Watch. It places us right there with the officers and adds to the tension in the film.

For these reasons and many more that will surely come to me as soon as I publish this post, I think End Of Watch is my favourite police drama.

Do you agree?

Random Observations

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena really prepared for their roles in this movie. I mean really prepared. They spent approximately five months riding incognito in the back of LA police patrol cars and saw some pretty disturbing sights. 

I really want to watch End Of Watch all over again - just to enjoy the banter between Brian and Mike really. I could watch that all day long.

If you find bad language offensive, this may not be the film for you - it is pretty full on from the start. I don’t have a problem with bad language but even I found it oppressive at first.

End Of Watch is rated 15 for frequent strong language (as well as strong violence and sex references) and when they use the word “frequent” they mean it. Every other word in some scenes. 

Have you seen End Of Watch? Do you agree with me that it is one of the best cop dramas evs?

If you do (or, of course, don’t) agree do let me know why in the comments section below!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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