End of Watch ★★★★

Besides seeing a poster for this movie a few months ago, this film was completely off of my radar until this evening when I had the pleasure to sit down and take it in. I'm glad I didn't hear more about it and/or write it off as a typical buddy-cop story on the streets of LA - it deserves much more credit than that.

The film is told primarily through handheld or mobile-mounted cameras (the reason being a thinly veiled and not-at-all-relevant notion that Gyllenhaal's character is shooting a 'project'). But if you can get past the premise of this shooting style, you can begin to realize the freedom it affords the movie, chiefly that its stars (Gyllenhaal and Peña) are able to perform in a very grounded and strikingly real manner. Their brotherhood is the story of the film, more than the cobbled-together crime saga that the movie is often described as being. The two stars have, in the past, struck me as being at their best when they are performing at exactly this level, allowing their true senses of humour and emotions to shine through beyond the words on the page. And you'll see it here, folks.

The movie is not without its problems. The plot is thin in many places, with Ayer choosing at times to show the perspectives of the various criminal 'cells' in the same shooting style, which just strikes me as convenient (I'd say lazy, but I do think this was a conscious choice, even though I disagree with it). Also, some of the non-essential actors deliver lines like they are in a high school drama class, but somehow - and possibly because of the aesthetic choices David Ayer has made with the film - both of these and other minor faults come across as grounded in a sort of honest realism. I don't expect many gangbangers to be poetic, after all, nor does the real world typically connect all the dots and make a seamlessly interwoven narrative.

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