Film review: End of Watch (4 out of 5 stars)

You would think that creating a ‘cop buddy’ movie these days would be a daunting task.

Let’s face it, there have been dozens of similar films that have hit the screens since the 1960s.

However, witer/director/producer David Ayer has come up with a superb variation on the theme.

Many people will shudder at the thought, but there is a lot of hand-held camera work - this over-used technique can lead to the audience feeling sea-sick.

The difference is the action is being captured by the actors (or on occasions the police car camera) as part of the plot and much of it is close-up.

This gives the movie a documentary feel.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are the police duo, driving round the seedier parts of Los Angeles, encountering gangs and violence as part of everyday life.

This isn’t just a ‘day in the life of...’ though. The action spreads across several weeks and we get to know these guys really well and their families.

Ayer injects some great humour, especially as the two cops have the type of close friendship which allows them play jokes on each other.

But they are also a tight law-enforcing unit, ready to lay their life on the line for each other.

And that is the crux of the film’s success - we actually do care about these guys.

So when they face danger the audience feels the tension.

However, I felt the last quarter of the film followed a predictable path which, though powerful, let it down a bit.

Having taken this movie on an unusual journey, I was expecting the same direction until the final credits.

A word of warning - if you aren’t too happy with swearing you’ll get quite a shock.

In some of the dialogue by the gang members they manage to cram in more four-letter words into a sentence I thought possible.

There’s also plenty of violence - so not for the squeamish.

But if you’re OK with all that, this is an excellent character-driven film with some outstanding acting all-round.

Film details: End of Watch (15) 109mins.

Director: David Ayer.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick.

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne