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Generally favorable reviews- based on 253 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 253

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  1. Sep 1, 2014
    A moving, powerful film about not only policemen but brothers--poignantly portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. End of Watch is a new hand-held classic.
  2. May 26, 2014
    Officers Taylor (Gyllenhaal ) and Zavala (Peña) are LA cops that respect the jib they do. When a seemingly routine traffic stop leads to the discovery of guns and money linked to a Mexican cartel the pair starts investigating, putting a target squarely on their backs.

    Moving past the fact that the ‘found footage’ aspect makes little sense in this context (even the director actively
    ignores it at points!) the film moves along at a break neck speed whilst still finding time to explore the lead characters lives to the extent necessary that audiences can invest in the two leads. The action set pieces are also brilliantly shot meaning that, while it can stretch plausibility at times, End of Watch's almost two hour running time flies by. Expand
  3. May 3, 2014
    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.
  4. Feb 3, 2014
    The filming is good, the actors/characters are decent, but in my opinion the story lacks some depth and is pretty straightforward, overall an okay movie about policeman everyday life.
  5. Jan 16, 2014
    As an Netflix instant watch film, End of Watch was one of the better finds I have located on there. I was very surprised by the quality of this film. Both lead actors make their roles believable and very human for the audience. The gritty way in which the movie was shot made the personal touch that much more apparent. Very well written and directed film.
  6. Dec 20, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. To be honest going into this movie I didn't know what to expect but it really was great.
    The actors did a great job and the movie established a connection between me and the character.
    My only real critique would have to be the ending. It seem so... abrupt, just kind of ended. Other than that I would highly recommend.
  7. Sep 22, 2013
    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 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
  8. Sep 8, 2013
    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!
  9. Sep 7, 2013
    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 (and set aside to do the job) when confronted with horrific violence. Expand
  10. Aug 26, 2013
    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 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. Jul 24, 2013
    The various points of view and personality of End of Watch have created one of the best police dramas in years, with the shaky cam and POV technique that really immerses the viewer in the film, with said film outlining perhaps the dark side of being on the right side of the law, the trials of day to day routine but also the obstacles faced when there is always someone with a higher pay grade. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as the two LAPD officers, Taylor and Zavala who create a tension of unpredictability and lack of safety as the film progresses. As the documentary style film unfolds, we realise these two officers end up investigating much deeper into the criminal activity in south central LA, nothing really screams new that hasn't been done before, but the way in which it unfolds can sometimes be frightening, often edgy but seriously entertaining.
    The story is a character-driven account of these two officers as they deal with their job but also their personal lives, they discuss their ambitions and their love life, these two perfectly fit the bill of a buddy cop film, but it properly explores these two individuals and the closely wound lives they lead, they have weaknesses and fears, something which the two actors perfectly portray, these two officers are friends, they spend their social lives in each others company which makes the film hit home that much more.
    The film itself as mentioned explores the gritty side of the police work, and the film tells a brutal tale involving trafficking and brutality of the highest level, with some very gruesome and edgy scenes that come alive with the documentary style and approach. There are laughs to be had at the very real conversations that the two share, with an excellent supporting cast to back up some of these moments.
    Writer/Director David Ayer had consistently showed his strength in the cop genre of films, and his latest is a no holds barred action flick that has a lot of heart, but tells a tragic and powerful tale of friendship and doing the right thing, End of Watch succeeds in being real, honest and forthright in the story it tells, leaving room for both the police drama and the personal story the two central characters have, elevating the charisma and heart the film has.
  12. Jun 30, 2013
    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.
  13. Jun 4, 2013
    "End of Watch is a gritty, reckless and emotional film that, gives us the true in-depth look at inner city cops. Filled with Oscar Worthy performances. It should come as no surprise, End of Watch being one of the best cop dramas in years." B+
  14. May 21, 2013
    David Ayer's "End of Watch" is an unflinching cop drama that uses the handheld camera approach to heighten the drama and escalate the tension. “End of Watch" feels closest to Ayer's "Training Day" (2001), albeit with a bit of faux documentary footage thrown in to create a level of authenticity and credibility to what might been seen as yet another buddy cop flick. Stylistically, the 'found footage' makes its debut in this genre, and it leaves you wondering how much more this technique can be pushed on us without boring us, or irritating us through its constant jerkiness.

    The narrative follows two beat cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), buddies and best friends for life who take on the meanest districts in the city of Los Angeles. As part of a film course project, Brian carries with him a video camera to record his days at work, and ropes in Mike to also carry around pinhole cameras, which they wear at their breast pockets. Additional footage comes from the multitude of cameras strategically located in and around their patrol car, and then some. It's all not fun and games as they patrol the streets together, and we see different facets to policing, from criminal gang violence to domesticated issues, right down to an unexplored subplot involving serial gang killings. There's a maxi-arc that runs along the entire film with the Mexican drug cartels, especially with our protagonist duo taking it upon themselves to launch some deeper investigations, at times stumbling upon something much larger than what's at face value. Interestingly enough, a group of violent gang members are engaged in exactly the same sort of small-screen self-promotion, living the street life with their own cameras rolling. Eventually, the two sides, the law and the lawlessness, violently collide.

    Well-done with two solid lead performances, the overall pace of the film is quick and the action is continuous. It's respectable, entertaining and worth checking out, but it's not one a would label 'a must see.'
  15. Apr 12, 2013
    Two things I am tired of in movies are the hand-held "I am taking this film" technique and the inability of a half dozen people at point blank range with military grade weapons being until to hit their target. If you love cop films you might like this one, but I found it tedious.
  16. Mar 28, 2013
    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 a night out with friends. Expand
  17. Mar 27, 2013
    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.
  18. Mar 22, 2013
    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.
  19. Mar 17, 2013
    An absolutely generic police-drama, buddy-film with good performances, but without originality. There is nothing here we have not seen before in these type of movies.
  20. Mar 10, 2013
    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.
  21. Mar 6, 2013
    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 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
  22. Mar 4, 2013
    End of Watch is one of the best cop films I've ever seen and it all starts with the fantastic cast. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are both incredible actors and the supporting cast is just as great. Because of the entire cast's acting ability, the emotion and drama felt real and authentic and really pulled you in. The action sequences were also done really well. You felt the intensity through the realism and the emoting and it really made you get on the edge of your seat at times. I also felt the the plot developed really well. Yes, the movie dragged a bit about two-thirds in but that was necessary for the development of the characters and their relationships. Without that portion, you may not care as much so I do not hold that against the movie. The only things that I do think brought the movie down were the extreme overuse of the shaky camera effect and some of the editing of scenes felt too episodic. When you're starting to almost feel a bit dizzy because the camera is shaking so much, I'm pretty sure that means dial it back a bit. I understand that there are plenty of handheld cameras used in the film as part of the plot but those are not the examples I'm referring to. The only other thing I felt was worth mentioning was the blatant foreshadowing in the film. There's a particular scene that essentially spoils the ending. I'm sure not everyone caught it but when I saw the scene I practically threw my hands into the air because I knew right then and there how the movie would end. I'm aware that directors love these little foreshadowing elements because it adds a certain level of cinematic quality but they're supposed to be subtle. Overall though, I'd say that this was a great movie and one that most people, at least those not easily offended by vulgar language and violence, would enjoy. Expand
  23. Feb 21, 2013
    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. Collapse
  24. Feb 15, 2013
    I like the actors who star in this film. I really do. I find some of the scenes well done and well performed. What the movie wants to say can be slightly interesting. But overall it is really boring. It feels way longer than what it is. Nobody in the whole theater seemed to enjoy it. It becomes a little bit more emotional towards the end, but it can´t save the film overall. Nice try, but just that, a try. I give it a better score than what I give to the typical crappy action films which don´t have any decent thing to say. But just that. Expand
  25. Jan 28, 2013
    This movie manages to have a completely unreastic and a realistic feel at the same time. A very good cop movie. The only problem is the partners are a little too nice to each other. Like their trying to push the friendship too hard to lead to more emotion. Comes of as a little cheap.
  26. Jan 27, 2013
    I found these two cops quite annoying with their lame, childish banter. The acting is fine but the dialouge seems a little unrealistic in parts. Not as gritty as it could be. I got bored and switched it off. Doesn't come close to a single episode of the Shield. Dissapointing
  27. Jan 26, 2013
    A good LA Police Department movie using the reality film point of view (although not overdone). A Bromance movie about 2 low level LAPD cops who get in over their head. In summary, it is a good story that show that in the end friendships and family are most important. It does a great job a showing parallels between the police vs. gang life (they are not that different). Good vs. Evil was well documented and shows that everyone wants to move up the food chain. The movie make you feel sad in parts where you know they pulled the story-lines from actual police reports. Expand
  28. Jan 26, 2013
    This a decent film, its gritty but ultimately it has an easily predictable ending. It's a good action / pseudo documentary film about 2 cops who are partners that find situation after situation of dealing with the worst criminals humanity has to offer in south central LA.
  29. Jan 25, 2013
    Intense, vulgar, disturbing. End of Watch is an unexpectedly over-the-top shoot-em-up, comparable to an episode of Southland on cocaine. Too soon through the movie does the language just get annoying, and the ridiculous lack of common sense the cops have questions the movie's reflection of the LAPD. Gyllenhaal is barely able to save this movie. 63/100
  30. Jan 25, 2013
    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 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.

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
    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
    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
    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.