Sunday, December 09, 2012

"End of Watch": a filmmaker cop is too smart for others' good, maybe

End of Watch”, a film by David Ayer, provides another good example of layered plotting, where the story exists inside images or films made by the lead character, as well as “on the outside”.
Jake Gyllenhaal (who helped produce the movie) plays a charismatic young  Los Angeles police officer Brian Taylor. Although the buzz cut may sound intrusive, he comes across as someone who makes everything happen.  He records all his work for an apparent personal film project with a flash drive camera and camcorder, and much of the film is seen through his images (hence the 1.85:1 aspect). The film expands to showing intelligence videos from Homeland Security later.

He has a close personal relationship with his LAPD partner Mike Zavala (Michael Pena), who is a bit earthier. He got married sooner  and his wife  (Natalie Martinez) has a baby on the way . Brian has a little more demanding girl friend (Anna Kemdrick).  The offiers watch each other’s backs, and could raise each other’s kids.  Curiously, a couple of gay jokes (one about “don’t ask don’t tell”) slip into their banter.
Brian, “the smart one” (maybe he could have worked for Facebook) is inquisitive, and keeps finding dangerous leads.  Eventually, through some complications, the pair stumble into a major drug cartel and human trafficking tucked away in south LA.  They’re in over their heads and the fibbies get called in. And they’re all concerned about Brian’s ego  and tendency to attract attention to his smarts.  They warn him, as had his own bosses  (like David Harbour). That leads to the film’s climax, that become tragic for one of the two officers.

This movie is quite riveting, with the constant up-close style that reminds one of “Cloverfield” (maybe even “Strange Days”).  The language is coarse (don’t take your mother to see it), and some of the violence and mayhem at the end gratuitous. 

I should have seen this sooner.  I got in free at the Regal Potomac Yard on my Regal Crown card.  That complex doesn’t seem to have converted to all digital yet, but all the auditoriums are big.

The official site from Open Road is here.  The film was financed with the help of the "EFF Hedge Fund". 

My own last stay in LA was on the 405, about 10 miles from downtown any about 20 miles from South LA, where this film takes place.  Various local smaller police departments were used to make this ambitious ":independent".film.   It deserves to be on the Oscar list for direction. 

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