End of Watch recap (part III)
More interviews, videos, reviews, photos. Don’t you just love good ol’ promotion times?
The found-footage gimmick and headline-grabbing deeds would be too much to bear if not for Gyllenhaal and Peña. Their relationship feels real and lived-in. The characters’ heroics are nice, but it’s the simple back-and-forth that makes the movie more than just another cop flick. Taylor and Z rip on each other while driving around are the highlights of the movie, but the smaller moments where they confess their fears and self-doubts are equally powerful. I could do with one less car chase in End of Watch if it meant I got another scene of Taylor and Z just chatting it up.
Ayer is still comfortably in his wheelhouse of the gritty cop drama (he previously wrote Training Day and wrote and directed Street Kings), but the found-footage device feels like a shortcut to an intimacy his actors already provide. Ayer demonstrates admirable confidence by giving so much of the movie to his actors, and eschewing traditional structure in favor of a more free-flowing narrative, but End of Watch would walk better if it didn’t use a crutch.
End of Watch relies heavily on the chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña and it just works. Within seconds of watching them, you feel like they’ve been friends forever. The two of them are able to make the audience feel like they are peeking into moments of their lives and listening in to their private conversations. While it all seems so genuine and normal, it takes a lot of skill to make simple conversation look seamless. This movie would have not been the same if it wasn’t for these two.
But wait, there’s more. End of Watch is not your typical cop movie. Writer/ Director David Ayer engulfs the audience into the action by using lots of handheld HD cameras that the police officers themselves and gang members are using, surveillance cameras, and any other digital devices that exist nowadays to capture genuine every day moments. While it is true that digital has not yet surpassed film, in this case the movie works better because it’s not on film. I even remember thinking at some point while watching, “wow, this really could be someone’s personal footage.” That is not to say that the movie doesn’t look good or professional, but the handheld digital aspect of it, makes the film hit closer to home. It is harder for the audience to disassociate themselves from it because it looks so real.
End of Watch could have been another good cop movie, but with David Ayer’s brilliant vision and Gyllenhaal and Peña’s thrilling performances, it elevated itself into a tour de force that you won’t soon forget.
RED CARPET DIARY
Part of it is that Mike and Brian, unlike Ayer’s previous swaggering monsters or righteous hardasses, are just, in the end, good cops. On a narrative level, the film’s loaded with such ominous portent that Mike and Brian might as well spend the majority of the film engaged in that great cop movie “two days ’till retirement!” cliché, swapping pictures of the boats and wives they intend to finally enjoy soon. I do not demand that every drama about the L.A.P.D. focus on corruption or brutality, but I do ask that a drama about the L.A.P.D. be dramatic; aside from the violence (or the promise of it), there’s no real plot here; the film may as well just be called “The Non-Adventures of the Two Nice Cops who Did Not Deserve The Bad Thing That Happens.”
But Peña’s scenes with his wife, Natalie Martinez, and Gyllenhall’s with his girl Anna Kendrick, have warm and relatable moments. And Gyllenhall and Peña have chemistry together and charisma individually. “End of Watch,” with its style and sleaze and action and suspense, will leave you with a great sense of how Ayer feels about L.A.’s truest, blue-st cops; its directorial energy and very suggest that if Ayer weren’t interested in that one color, and offered some different shades to the viewer, he could have given the audience a story and a movie instead of just well-intentioned and extremely engaging manipulation and myth-making.
TIFF Q&A picture series courtesy of this lovely blog
The police drama End of Watch is the hardest, most honest buddy cop movie you’ll ever see. It’s grounded in the everyday relationships of and the very real feelings between cops. It is a film about family; we rely on the police and they in turn rely on each other.
The cops deal with scumbags and gangsters in the action scenes, but it’s the quieter times with them in their patrol car that are the most fun to watch. These characters are utterly engrossing and their relationship is the film’s core driving force. Gyllenhaal and Pena give fantastic, wholly authentic performances, and the naturalness of their friendship is a joy to behold. Supporting players, notably Anna Kendrick as Officer Taylor’s girlfriend Janet, play just as real. There is an intimacy and chemistry between this cast that shines throughout the entire film.
This is a film propelled by the strength of its characters and how they relate to each other and their world. You can’t help but care for them because the movie is so full of heart. End of Watch makes an impact, stressing the important need to recognize that there are real people out there who risk their personal safety for all of us each and every day.
HARVEY CARTEN (New York Film Critics Online)
Two top performers, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as Police Officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala respectively are like brothers; brothers who like to insult each other in a kidding way but who have each other’s back—as they prove several times during the course of the story. Taylor, an ex-Marine, is presumably of Irish background while Zavala is Mexican-American. Their hobby, one that gets them into trouble with at least one other member of the precinct, is videotaping their travails, so when they make statements that seem to be directed at us in the audience, they are really tracking their daily errands for others.
Michael Peña, terrifically funny as Jimmy the hospital orderly in Lance Daly’s “The Good Doctor,” gets his chance to let loose in a starring role where he can verbalize his affection toward his partner as well as he can take down the syndicate. For his part, Jake Gyllenhaal, here seen with a shaved head as though he never left the Marines, is not quite as flamboyant as his partner but shows the acting chops that made up pay attention to him in such movies as Gavin Hood’s “Rendition” (a CIA agent questions his assignment upon seeing an unorthodox investigation at a secret facility) and David Fincher’s “Zodiac” (a San Francisco cartoonish tracks down the Zodiac killer).
The conversations between the two stars come across so rapidly, it’s conceivable that some of them are improvised. The action scenes are riveting, the ensemble spot-on (including the look at Officer Orozco played by America Ferrera), and the whole project an ideal one for the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.
Back to ‘If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet’, Nick Payne said something nice (which doesn’t surprise me one bit) about Jake in an interview with LondonCalling.com:
Did you have to adapt If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet for the American audience?
I re-wrote the play to try and improve it but I didn’t rewrite it in terms of making it more US audience friendly. I changed maybe two words which I knew wouldn’t work there. There is a speech about netball and no one knows what that is America, it’s completely alien, so people were asking me if it’s like volleyball. And there was a joke about Wetherspoon’s that didn’t work at all.
How different is the American theatre system compared to the London scene you’re used to?
There are differences. The sheer number of previews is very different. In America we had three weeks of previews whereas in the UK I’m used to four nights, or six. The way the previews ran made it difficult to make changes so it was strange watching the same show five times or so before making any changes to it.
And what has working with Jake Gyllenhaal been like?
It’s funny, and, for want of a better phrase, it was like having any actor in a show. When you are in the rehearsal it’s the same process irrespective of who is there, but he’s been great and is a real creature of the stage, even though he has only done one play before this. He has got a very acute sense of whether the audience is with him or not and you could see him changing his performance each night.
Last but not least, mark your calendars!: Jake will be on Live! With Kelly & Michael on September 20 and, according to Manila Standard Today, on Today Show:
Jake Gyllenhaal is juggling careers right now and it looks like he is handling it pretty nicely.
The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, top-bills the police drama End of Watch, which hits movie theaters on Sept. 21. But before that, you can also catch him on stage the night before for the premiere of the dark comedy play, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet.
How does The Brokeback Mountain Oscar-nominee handle all these stuff? Hear him live on Saturday in The Today Show.