End of Watch

EntertainmentMoviesMichael PenaFBIDenzel WashingtonAcademy AwardsRobert De Niro

You know what’s funny? Movie audiences like to complain about the price of films and popcorn. Critics often complain there aren’t enough good movies being made. When End of Watch arrived – and audiences and critics alike praise it – I’m confused. This is garbage. It’s from writer/director David Ayer – who gave us Training Day. That’s another movie everyone but me enjoyed.

This is supposed to be some gritty, realistic look at cops in South Central. Instead, it just has a bunch of dumb clichés, cartoonish thugs -- and much like TV shows that have the cop heroes in a different adventure each week -- you’re going to wonder how these guys keep coming across these adventures. They rescue a family from a burning house, they have a big drug bust, they discover a bunch of bodies, and they get in shoot-outs almost daily. Don’t they say most cops never fire their guns? Yet this is the movie critics want to praise as realistic.

It starts with Jake Gyllenhaal telling his partner (the always great Michael Pena) that he’s taking a film class so he has to record everything. That means we get that overdone handheld camera, which nobody ever likes. Even the fictional characters in this hate it, and yet he’s continually allowed to film. The filmmaker doesn’t stick with that, though. We usually get the handheld shaky cam shots, but we also get real movie making scenes. Well, doesn’t it take you out of the “Blair Witch” style realism you’re going for?

The two performances from Gyllenhaal and Pena are good and I loved their chemistry. I enjoyed their banter. It felt like how two partners would rib each other, and at the same time, love and respect each other. That made it all the more frustrating that it became such a horrible movie.

We get to see the officers involved in boring paperwork, and that could’ve been interesting. Show us all the things the officer does in a day, not just the Cops highlights. The Mexican drug cartels order a hit on them because they’re so disruptive, and its game on; more like a video game on…where you shoot and shoot, and bodies pile up.

Early on I didn’t like the path the movie took. The cops show up at a noise complaint and a thug mouths off about what he’d to do the officer if he didn’t have a gun. So Pena takes his gun and badge off, and they beat each other senseless. The perp is never arrested for it, and goes back to the streets talking about how great the cop was for doing that. Now, that approach can work. I absolutely loved the way it was done in Mad Dog and Glory (Robert De Niro). It was also fun when Mel Gibson did it in the first Lethal Weapon. In this, it’s just the first of many implausible and uninteresting scenes.

Anna Kendrick pops up as the love interesting. I’m real hit-and-miss with her on screen. Her young look and naivety worked in Up in the Air and 50/50. In this movie she looked 12-years-old.

So, who is this movie for? Anybody that isn’t bothered by cops showing up in a funky situation and not calling for back-up (in the first 20 minutes there were two instances of that); anybody that can buy a person lighting up a big joint in front of a cop and mouthing off, as the cop merely walks away; anybody that believes when the FBI or higher ranking officers show up they will say rude things like “You boys can go home now, the big dogs are here.”

Well, you guys won’t be disappointed. Denzel Washington got an Oscar for being in rubbish like this, so who knows.

It’s the second time I’ve seen Gyllenhaal with a shaved head (Brothers), and I still haven’t decided if it makes him look tough, or like he has cancer.

America Ferrera shows up in a good supporting role, but I can only give this 1 ½ stars out of 5.

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