Monday, June 10, 2013

End of Watch - stray thoughts

End of Watch is on Netflix so we were finally able to catch it.  And I'm glad we did because it's a hell of a movie.


 A couple thoughts & stray observations:

-A story like this needs one important thing to work. It's an important component to the visual mediums like TV and film. It's also not something you can force or recreate easily. And that is chemistry between actors. When actors have natural onscreen chemistry (Danny Glover and Mel Gibson come to mind) or have a pre-existing relationship  that seasons the roles (Donal & Karina Logue in Terriers, Jack Nicholson & Anjelica Houston  in The Crossing Guard) a little bit of that old movie magic happens. End of Watch reminds me in this respect of Man on Fire in that for the later parts of the movie to work a solid relationship foundation needs to be laid early on. The great chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña is key to the movie's success. 

-I think that End of Watch borrows a little something from noir and uses it to great effect. There's a moment, that leads into the final act of the film, where Jake Gyllenhaal's character decides to step off the "normal" path and do something that he shouldn't do. The devastating ending of the film can be traced bacv to that single moment, that single decision. How many times have we seen noir characters make that same fateful decision. Let me be clear, End of Watch isn't a noir but I think it has a couple of noir elements. Maybe there's a lesson there.

-The obvious connecting theme of the movie is love but the overlooked one is communication. Communication is the through line theme that connects everything in End of Watch. In the world of EoW the key to successful policing is communication. You have to communicate with your partner at all times because you never know what a situation will bring. The better you are at communicating the better you will be at policing. Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña's characters are constantly communicating and it shows in their police work. There is another partnership, the asshole and the rookie, who don't communicate, and thus pay a heavy price in a stunning and graphic scene. Some of the best scenes in EoW are the ones in the car, where no action is happening, and they are just bullshitting with each other. Because they are good at their job, they are good at communicating, and because they are good at communicating it's muscle memory for them. They can't turn it off. It is though this action that we get to know these characters. That's the way it should be. 

End of Watch is claustrophobic, intense, wonderfully acted and ultimately devastating.Highly recommended. 


Dana King said...

I saw this at a Super Bowl party. For about the first half I was wondering what the hell was going on, though i enjoyed the ride. By the end it all made sense and I was stunned. Hell of a movie.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved it too. The only upsetting thing was the number of parents who had small children with them in the theater. I mean kids under 8.