User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 269 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 269
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  1. Jan 25, 2013
    8
    End of Watch merges an uninspired genre and a tired technique that both miraculously contribute to the reason why the film itself is worth seeing. The genre, first and foremost, is the buddy cop film, which, I believe, needs no introduction, and the technique is the unsteady camera employed by either Jake Gyllenhaal's character's handheld camcorder or the camera found on the front of realEnd of Watch merges an uninspired genre and a tired technique that both miraculously contribute to the reason why the film itself is worth seeing. The genre, first and foremost, is the buddy cop film, which, I believe, needs no introduction, and the technique is the unsteady camera employed by either Jake Gyllenhaal's character's handheld camcorder or the camera found on the front of real police cruisers. Merging these two cliches in film seem like a recipe for failure, but when we realize that End of Watch doesn't capitalize off either of those things, we have a good feeling that this film is headed in a better, brighter, more aesthetically and narratively fluent direction.

    The story concerns Jake Gyllenhaal's Brian Taylor and Michael Peña's Miguel Zavala, two South Central Los Angeles police officers, who see more action in one day than most police officers see in their lifetime. They are the enemy of almost everyone in the area they work in, and due to their extensive rabble-rousing in the station and on the streets together, are looked down upon by the remainder of the police department. Their first call is a public disturbance one, and the two men are met with a tall, ominous figure called "Tre," who instigates Zavala into fighting. He accepts and after a merciless brawl between the two men, Tre is taken in for public disturbance, not attacking a police officer. Just on that note alone, I knew this wasn't going the traditional way of cop dramas.

    The fact is the story is much deeper. While it focuses a lot on the day-to-day lives of the two officers, writer/director David Ayer (S.W.A.T. and Training Day) explores the outside lives of these two men. Taylor, an ex-Marine who has had a rugged and sketchy dating life, is currently dating the sweet and smiley Janet (Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect fame, who has silently grown up in this role), while Zavala, on the other hand, is attached to his wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez). The film explores just how deep of a relationship these men have with one another, and how their personal relationships go on to experience notable ups, unfortunate downs, and the sporadic energy and nerve-wracking uncertainty involved with being a cop in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the country.

    Yet as a cop drama, the film must fulfill the obligation of having some sort of added tension, which in this case is a gang involved with serious drug cartels. Part of this obligation is fulfilled by having concise insight into the gang life, while the rest is achieved by somewhat suspenseful car chases and thrillingly impressive shootouts. I tire easily from these petty additions, but in End of Watch they are used efficiently and work well to the point of being almost more than tacked-on pot boiler effects.

    I believe this is largely thanks to the use of the shaky cam, which contributes to the added effect of realism and suspense. Viewers and opponents of the gimmick will be happy to be informed that the film is only about 25% or 30% documentary-style, and we are, too, provided with numerous different camera angles, one of which, the under-used aerial shot of Taylor and Zavala's cruiser speeding through South Central L.A. The lasting effect is only enhanced by the fuel the humanism brings to the story, resulting in a deeper and more substantial endeavor than just your average summer action movie. By allowing the characters to have more of a human setup and the action to take on a more stylistic approach, there is a nice lack of perfunctory criminal/heist plot and an absence of repetitive serious cop banter. By having numerous little calls result in one big mission for our characters makes this far more interesting and uncertain than one big mission spread out through the course of a near two hour film.

    End of Watch tacks on the ending we sort of saw coming, but Ayer shies away from exploiting it unhealthily. If we feel anything, it's definitely not heavy-handed sentimentality, and if we remember anything, we recall the wonderful chemistry had by the two charming and valuable leading men. It should definitely be noted that two great performances were overlooked during this year's award season.

    Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, Nadine Martinez, and America Ferrera. Directed by: David Ayer.
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  2. Mar 28, 2013
    9
    End Of Watch is a very fun, brilliantly directed movie. It has been said that team cop movies suck and 21 jump street proved that they don't but End Of Watch is a great new idea with guns, gangsters, and blood. With the makers of Training Day making the film, you know it's a professional film and it is. With its 90 minutes of rollicking, cheesy flicking action this film is superb for aEnd Of Watch is a very fun, brilliantly directed movie. It has been said that team cop movies suck and 21 jump street proved that they don't but End Of Watch is a great new idea with guns, gangsters, and blood. With the makers of Training Day making the film, you know it's a professional film and it is. With its 90 minutes of rollicking, cheesy flicking action this film is superb for a night out with friends. Expand
  3. Mar 22, 2013
    6
    Although End of Watch manages to avoid most of the typical cliches associated with the genre of law enforcement movies, there is still loose cannon & family man- pair around. The movie is worth seeing but I think I would have been better off watching the old episodes of Cops instead.
  4. Feb 21, 2013
    7
    Filmed in the style of "found footage" (REC., Blair Witch Project), this police thriller/drama is all about the everyday life of two policemen.

    What I liked: The characters were likeable and the acting was great. You really feel like you are getting to know the characters more and more.The movie itself was never boring and the action sequences were well done and thrilling. What I
    Filmed in the style of "found footage" (REC., Blair Witch Project), this police thriller/drama is all about the everyday life of two policemen.

    What I liked: The characters were likeable and the acting was great. You really feel like you are getting to know the characters more and more.The movie itself was never boring and the action sequences were well done and thrilling.

    What I didn't like: The antagonists ("the gang") seemed too forced, making it less realistic.
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  5. Mar 6, 2013
    6
    Even tho I didnt hate this movie I didnt particularly enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It just seemed juvenile and the story was mediocre at best. The camera shots and action were great and the ending was the best part in the movie. But everything leading up to it was boring childish banter between the two officers. The worse thing about the movie beside the nonsensical plot was theEven tho I didnt hate this movie I didnt particularly enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It just seemed juvenile and the story was mediocre at best. The camera shots and action were great and the ending was the best part in the movie. But everything leading up to it was boring childish banter between the two officers. The worse thing about the movie beside the nonsensical plot was the absurd language in this film. Its like the only words in the script were f**ck this and f**ck that every second throughout the film. It gets f**king annoying hearing it over and over and over again. In short if you enjoy good cop movies with a good story look elsewhere. However if u like movies with nonsensical plots and an insane amount of profanity youll love this movie Expand
  6. Mar 27, 2013
    8
    an awesome movie i loved every second of it probably the best police movie i have seen in a long time and i'm gonna watch it again and again on a smaller screen.
  7. Mar 10, 2013
    7
    I really enjoyed the two leads. Their chemistry makes this movie as good as it is. Anna Kendrick is also in this film and is good as always. Overall though if the leads weren't as good as they were this movie would suffer.
  8. Nov 1, 2014
    10
    Amazing film. It's one of those films which doesn't fully hit you how great it is until the end. They achieved so much with it considering they had a small budget. Well worth a watch!
  9. Nov 17, 2014
    8
    End of Watch turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year and it surpassed my expectations dramatically. It's only more recently than I've warmed to Jake Gyllenhaal and both him & Michael Peña are great together here. The chemistry between the duo is one the most convincing and realistic buddy cop pairings I've ever seen. It's the pointless everyday conversations between theEnd of Watch turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year and it surpassed my expectations dramatically. It's only more recently than I've warmed to Jake Gyllenhaal and both him & Michael Peña are great together here. The chemistry between the duo is one the most convincing and realistic buddy cop pairings I've ever seen. It's the pointless everyday conversations between the pair whilst on patrol that carries the film and makes it believable. Usually I find the found footage style camera work to be a worn out gimmick. But the majority of the time it works well here. And it plays an integral part in making the experience so intense. David Ayer's overall direction is impressive and overall I found this to be a refreshing, original, real and honest take on the buddy cop formula. Expand
  10. Aug 26, 2013
    7
    This was a real unique journey in drama. A mix of studio camera and innovative character cameras interwoven with the story. Casting brought two very strong actors together and their chemistry was right on target. The plot was simple but the ingredient that put this film over the top was realism and believability. Yes it is very raw and if I got a dollar for every "F-bomb" I could by a homeThis was a real unique journey in drama. A mix of studio camera and innovative character cameras interwoven with the story. Casting brought two very strong actors together and their chemistry was right on target. The plot was simple but the ingredient that put this film over the top was realism and believability. Yes it is very raw and if I got a dollar for every "F-bomb" I could by a home in Malibu for sure. Realism is the main course and this film would not lose it's true identity. I found what really put this movie in the must see category is that ...One minute your laughing and the next you're crying. There are very few films that can achieve this element with this level of quality. This is, without a doubt, one of the very best films of the year. Expand
  11. Jun 30, 2013
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. With all of the lushly exquisite terrain and affluent neighborhoods that fill southern California, the concept of criminal activity ravishing the area may go wayside when conjuring mental images of this corner of the United States. End of Watch is determined to reinvigorate your imagination, even if it is done with a hyperbolic touch. The film tracks the Los Angeles police duo of Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal, Zodiac) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña, World Trade Center) as they struggle to subdue the rising threat of crime in an already lethal section of the ghetto. Writer-director David Ayer has crafted a thrilling story that only raises the stakes as it runs. Pervasive are the moments disguised to allow viewer recovery, but instead exploit the vulnerable moment and slap on another heavy turn. The scarce breathing room withstanding, Watch, a representation of very real issues, delivers in a spectacle, playing out like a Miami Vice highlights reel.

    The team of officers are fresh off a successful shootout, killing two men following a wild car chase through the backstreets of a destitute landscape. The recognition for their work only flares the previously present arrogance raging in the veins the two officers. Taylor, currently in the midst of completing law school, has acquired a handheld camera, intending to record the future happenings of he and Zavala's patrol as part of an assignment for his film class. The handheld documentary style is used intermittently with the general photography of Roman Vasyanov (The East), but more interesting is the use of other handheld devices by multiple characters in the film. It is a connection between cop and criminal.

    Their fame within the department is ephemeral as the two are reassigned to a different district. Quickly revealing itself as a much more problematic area, Taylor and Zavala face a couple unsettling cases. Conflict within the neighborhood is amplified by a drive-by shooting executed by members of the Hispanic "Curbside Gang." Marking the commencement of a turf war between the Hispanics and the blacks of the district, the film seems to be centering the ethnic battle as the driving conflict. However, the film makes an inexplicable desertion of this narrative, plowing onward under alternative guidance. Instead, the story takes focus with the Curbside Gang and it's don, Mr. Big Evil (It's because his "evil is big").

    Having noticed heavy traffic leading to a from Evil's house, Taylor steps outside his realm of duty to play private investigator. He and Zavala begin to become more suspicious of the residence when they recover cash being transported away from the house. They storm the house to make a horrifying discovery: upwards of thirty people are being held captive in a human trafficking business. Mr. Big Evil is not just a local threat, but with his ties to Mexican cartels, he is a force to be reckoned with in the southwestern United States. Even worse, Taylor and Zavala have now presented themselves to be a persistent annoyance to the operations of the cartels, tagging themselves a target on their back.

    Mr. Big Evil's coterie brews a plan to rid themselves of the pestering cops. As the madness unfolds, the militants of the Curbside Gang look more like phantasmal creatures plucked from the virtual reality of Grand Theft Auto and less like a shrewdly wicked conglomerate. The borderline suicidal manner in which this crew operates doesn't suit the furtive pattern established by the villains in the rest of the film. Using the handheld cameras furthers an impractical sense. Yes, Taylor and Zavala bring hell upon themselves with their intrepid hunger for action, but the chronic documentary style comes off as purposeless and superfluous in adding to their immaturity. No final product ever comes of Taylor's "film project" that is frequently mentioned.

    Despite all of this, copious screen time is devoted to the powerful relationship between Taylor and Zavala. Gyllenhaal and Peña display an exceptional chemistry through endearing back-and-forth prodding about their respective love lives. It is the result of sitting elbow-to-elbow in a car for 10 hours a day, the production of enduring fatal possibilities daily. The bond tightens and the emotional investments swell with the Taylor's marriage to Janet (Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air). Mr. Big Evil's threat now surpasses the potential to break a friendship; marriages and families could be torn asunder.

    Ultimately, Watch is much more than it's visual dazzle. There exists a narrative that, at times, overshadows the shock of criminal activity. There are times in cinema when it is commendable for a film to overstep boundaries. After all, a film that fails to overachieve excites more than one that succeeds to underachieve. Watch comes off as one of these films aspiring to overachieve. It's audacity is far from destructive, but works as an abrasive touch.
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  12. Sep 7, 2013
    9
    I'm a huge fan of TNT;s "Southland," so I guess I'll admit to being spoiled as far as seeing realistic depictions of life as a LAPD officer is concerned. By that standard, "End of Watch" is a satisfying, albeit sometimes melodramatic slice of behind the badge that takes us both into the brotherhood that exists between sworn officers and the terror that even the most seasoned must feel (andI'm a huge fan of TNT;s "Southland," so I guess I'll admit to being spoiled as far as seeing realistic depictions of life as a LAPD officer is concerned. By that standard, "End of Watch" is a satisfying, albeit sometimes melodramatic slice of behind the badge that takes us both into the brotherhood that exists between sworn officers and the terror that even the most seasoned must feel (and set aside to do the job) when confronted with horrific violence. Expand
  13. Sep 8, 2013
    10
    I watched this movie because Anna Kendrick is in it and I think it is absolutely amazing! All the actors did a fantastic job and the script was so well written and clever. I am doing a project for school about this movie!
  14. Sep 22, 2013
    9
    Not all movies are meant to be bright and happy, entertaining all audiences. End of Watch is one of these movies. It is raw and gritty and forces the viewer to feel uncomfortable...and it does this very well. It provides a near realistic view of what it is like to be a cop...the good, the bad and the ugly...and examines a sort of "worst case scenario." This movie is well acted and wellNot all movies are meant to be bright and happy, entertaining all audiences. End of Watch is one of these movies. It is raw and gritty and forces the viewer to feel uncomfortable...and it does this very well. It provides a near realistic view of what it is like to be a cop...the good, the bad and the ugly...and examines a sort of "worst case scenario." This movie is well acted and well executed. The camera style is intentionally shaky and raw, giving the viewer a sense of being right there with them. This is the type of movie you will watch and think about for a while. It carries large themes dealing with morals, ethics and a sense of family. It is highly recommended. Expand
  15. May 3, 2014
    5
    Cinematography, characters, acting and story carry this film through the most of the way. The only thing that's wrong in there is some of the dialogue.
  16. Dec 4, 2014
    9
    This movie is probably one of my favorite in recent memory. It have great action scenes and well written dialog between the two characters. It have a very realistic feel to it, plus some drama for good measure definitely worth it
Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Nov 25, 2012
    60
    Forceful and arresting, Ayer's follow-up to "Harsh Times" and "Street Kings" sees him confidently playing to his strengths.
  2. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Nov 19, 2012
    80
    It's a collection of cop-movie clichés but presented with sufficient flair and strong performances that the ride is enough, even if it's on rails.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Sep 24, 2012
    50
    The performances here are so sharp that viewers may wish End of Watch has been shot by someone who knew how to find the right point of view for a scene and leave it there.