Written and directed by David Ayer, the screenwriter of Training Day, End of Watch is another trip into the gritty life of LA street cops, this time with partners Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña patrolling the gangbanger-infested South Central area.
Using a silly and inconsistently-applied conceit of camcorders - we see what people are taping, then see the people taping from other viewpoints; either go all-in like The Blair Witch Project or don't - the episodic structure has the partners repeatedly stumbling across an ever-larger cartel operation without adequately explaining the progression to the predictable denouement. (If you don't watch the trailer and reflexively start trying to guess which one is going to be dead by the end, you haven't seen any movies before.)
While the performances are good and the banter and smacktalking amusing, over and over events occurred that set off the "That Would Never Happen" alarm, beginning with a scene where Peña brawls with a suspect promising not to charge him for the assault. Later, as the plot involving human trafficking advances, the Feds appear to stand back while Very Bad Plans are hatched. The shenanigans and pranks between the officers feel like frat boy behavior and not the actions of professional Blue Knights.
The most original aspect of End of Watch is the absence of Michelle Rodriguez as a tough chick cop. Perhaps she was busy playing that part in another movie, but the Designated Latina Cop slot is filled by America Ferrara of Ugly Betty fame. She seems too short and weak for the role, but none of the women officers come off pretty well, especially an Asian rookie who seems like she shouldn't have graduated the Police Academy.
Score: 5/10. Catch it on cable.