End of Watch
Jake Gyllenhaal continues trying to prove something – who can say what? – with this swaggering police potboiler, in which he plays reckless, foulmouthed, macho LAPD officer Brian Taylor, and looks, as ever, like a big pretty kitten on its way to have its claws manicured. While you’ve got your disbelief suspended, you’ll want to also make space for the film’s ‘found footage’ gimmick, which asks us to buy that snappily-edited multi-camera scenes are all being picked up by a tiny camera concealed in one of Brian’s pecs (or something). It’s hard to see why director David Ayer – who wrote the similarly lurid but far superior Training Day – bothered with this presentational quirk, since it has no bearing on the plot and is pursued too half-heartedly to be remotely convincing. Presumably it’s just designed to fire the adrenal glands of kids hopped up on the phoney spontaneity of scripted reality shows and army recruitment videos.
Anyway, Brian and his love-you-like-a-brother-man partner, Mike (Michael Peña), ride around busting one another’s balls, having unimpeachable blue-collar integrity and endeavouring to clear the ‘scum’ (ie the poor black people with drug problems) off the South Central mean streets. Oh, and they have some saintly wives, who trot on to gawp at them adoringly now and again. (Who knows what drew Anna Kendrick to her role as Brian’s wife, but the fact that her cleavage is squeezed into most shots of her suggests that the filmmakers noticed how dull her onscreen presence was otherwise going to be.) Peña is the saving grace – he’s got a warmth that almost makes it past the film’s onslaught of self-righteous clichés – and the film has a kinetic energy that will please its target audience; but it ultimately says nothing, and says it all too loud.
General release from Fri 23 Nov.