The Review/Short Read/

Hump Day Movie: End Of Watch

A cop movie that excels at realism

Apr 13, 2016

This week, Stephen Hawking announced Breakthrough Starshot, a project dedicated to developing and deploying thousands of extremely small spacecrafts. The mission? Travel to Alpha Centauri (the closest solar system to here, just 40 trillion KM away) and send back photographs of the most likely places where Earth-like life could exist.

This is a terrible idea.

Do I love the idea of a tiny spacecraft propelled by light traveling at 25 times the speed of light? Of course. Do I fear the inevitable, War of the Worlds-style confrontation with whatever might be out there? Very much so.

I would therefore suggest that we arm these tiny little spaceships with some of our finest cinematic work. The types of films that would not only impress potential far-off civilizations with the heights of our artistic ability, but that will also strike fear into their hearts.

I humbly put forth that we load these tiny spacecrafts (and you load up your Netflix queue) with David Ayers' End of Watch.

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One of the best police dramas of the last decade, End of Watch follows TIFF fan-favourite (and personal beard idol) Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of police officer Brian Taylor as he navigates the dangers of South Central Los Angeles with his partner Miguel "Mike" Zavala, played by the always excellent Michael Peña. As partners, Officers Taylor and Zavala speak in the clipped shorthand that is developed out of years of spending days upon days together. Their relationship is deep and fully drawn, borne out of the stresses and pressures of a job that is treated realistically and respectfully under Ayers' expert direction.

As they successfully uncover the encroachment of a Mexican cartel into the neighborhood they are charged with protecting, their lives outside of the precinct develop as well. Taylor dates, and then marries Janet (played with impressive depth by Anna Kendrick) and Zavala's wife gives birth to their first child. Taylor captures many of these moments on a hand-held camera for a documentary film class. The juxtaposition of the mundane nature of the daily life of these characters and the high-stakes drama of the danger they become embroiled in is the key to this film. As Taylor and Zavala are pulled towards direct conflict with the cartel, it's impossible not to recognize their humanity - this is just another day at the office for them. End Of Watch is the type of film that underscores that humanity and celebrates it. Perhaps just enough for whoever we find out in Alpha Centauri.