Film: End Of Watch

End of Watch is a late summer 2012 release directed by David Ayer starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.

Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike "Z" Zavala (Peña) are two LAPD police officers of Unit 13, their district handling the infamous crime ridden South Central Los Angeles. The film follows the two both on the job and in their private lives. Things turn sour when the two unknowingly start sticking their noses into the Mexican Drug Cartel activities that eventually puts a hit on their head when they discover something they shouldn't have.

The film is shot mostly with a video look to it, including many shots that are, In-Universe, taken by handheld camcorder's, squad car cameras or the officers lapel cams.


Tropes:

  • A-Team Firing: The criminals in the film don't aim their weapons well, which doesn't help when using the notoriously inaccurate AK-47. A team of five of them fire on Z and Taylor late in the film, from an elevated position where Z and Taylor have no cover from, and only end up landing one shot. It's even lampshaded by the lesbian gangbanger right after.
  • Abusive Parents: Shown when Taylor and Z get a call about "missing children" - a worried mother is freaking out about her missing children, while her partner is pretending to be asleep on the couch and consistently tells her to say they're at her grandmother's place. Z and Taylor find them duct-taped in the closet, because the father couldn't stand their crying.
  • Anyone Can Die: Zavala.
  • Bald of Awesome: Taylor
  • Big Bad: Appropriately named "Big Evil."
  • Bigger Bad: The Cartel leader who orders the hit from south of the border through Big Evil.
  • Bling Bling BANG: One of the cartel runners carried a chromed and gold plated, diamond encrusted M1911 and a gold plated AKM.
    "Check it out: Liberace's AK!"
  • Camera Abuse: The camera generally gets shaken about, but the big one comes when Taylor gets shot through the camera in the ending.
  • Cassandra Truth: A gangbanger that Z had fought before warns the pair that there's a hit out on them. They immediately dismiss it.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Happens a few times. Most notably at the end where Brian and Z have already been shot. Z doesn't survive.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The format of the movie. Scenes switch back and forth between the hard life of an LAPD officer in a crime ridden area to joking conversations between Taylor and Z. It eventually culminates to a really hard Mood Whiplash.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Sureño gang uses a silver MPV in a drive-by shooting at the beginning of the film. When its torched wreck is discovered, Taylor suspects it's been used in a shooting and explains why gangs prefer to use these as they do not attract attention and can carry a lot of people (and guns). When another one appears behind the patrol car after a hit is placed on Z on Taylor, you know something bad is about to happen.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The black guy Z has a brawl with earlier later informs the two that The Cartel put a hit on them.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There's a whole lot of swearing, but the Curbside Crew drop obscenities between every word.
  • Covers Always Lie: No, that AK is never used by either of them.
  • Da Chief: Taylor looks up to him and he has no issues with the main characters. The pair's sergeant occasionally barks at them, however.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After trading insults with a suspect, Zavala agrees to fight him. Zavala's victory, combined with his decision to only arrest the suspect on the original charge of disorderly conduct (as opposed to assault on a police officer) wins the gangbanger's grudging respect. He is later shown speaking well of Zavala, and eventually warns the protagonists of the hit that was placed on them.
  • Disney Death: Taylor. He passes out wounded, seemingly dead, as Z stays at his side, before The Crew catches up to him and shoots him fatally, leaving both men lifeless in the middle of the alley. In the next scene, Taylor is shown injured yet alive at Z's funeral.
  • Documentary: In-universe. Taylor is filming his day for a "school project". Action scenes switch between what those cameras are seeing and regular angles.
  • Downer Ending: Taylor and Z are ambushed, and Z dies, while Taylor is left a broken man with grief and, uh, broken bones that will most likely force him off the force, like Van Hauser.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Big Evil and his gang won't be reppin' the Cartels anymore, or shooting up the neighborhoods, not with several hundred bullets sent through their chests.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Inverted, early scenes establish Taylor and Z as borderline Sociopathic Heroes, they enjoy the action of the cop life and seem to have enjoyed the shootout at the beginning of the movie. But as the film goes on, you see them as being exceptionally good cops who are more than willing to put their life on the line. After they rescue a family from a burning house, earning a medal of valor, they notably start acting less bloodthirsty and more professional and focused on their job.
  • Eye Scream: Van Hauser's right eyeball is split in half by a knife, causing his retirement from the force.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Family seems to be brought up quite often by the two officers. Especially Z. Taylor reveals that Janet is pregnant just before the climax, which leads to the fake-out where it seems like both died, when Taylor survived because Z took the brunt of the last attack.
  • Fight Scene: Z and a repeat offender go at it to settle their differences.
  • Fingore: Taylor got his radio shot out of his hand during the initial ambush, the actual injury was unknown (actual bullet through the hand or shrapnel from the shattered radio).
  • Found Footage: Both the cops and the Curbside Crew are recording themselves.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Both our protagonists. See Jerkass below.
    Zavela: [to Taylor] You know you're a piece of shit, right?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Taylor and Zavala say that they're brothers, and the whole film is basically scene after scene reinforcing it.
  • Jerkass: Van Hauser, in a very stoic, cold, and passive-aggressive way - it's explained he's like this, due to getting repeatedly fucked over by the LAPD for a promotion and placed on shit duties.
    • Taylor and Z touch it at times, such as pulling juvenile pranks on their fellow officers, talking shit to van Hauser's face, annoying the ICE, repeatedly cursing and roughing up suspects, and engaging in very fratboy-like antics (not that the rest of the department, "Boot" and van Hauser notwithstanding, are much better).
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Probably thanks to shock, Hauser is remarkably calm as he explains what happened to the main characters that led to him getting a knife wedged in his eye.
  • Mockumentary: Much of the film is shot from Taylor's handheld camera as part of his class documentary project, as well as apparently recovered footage from the Curbside gang, who are constantly filming themselves.
  • Mood Whiplash: After Z's funeral, the film flashes back to a humorous story that Z tells about having to hide from his wife's parents the first night they had, which is funny as well as tragic given the information we know about his future.
  • Mundane Utility: Taylor carries around a camera to film his police lifestyle. While raiding a house, he uses it to peek around corners.
  • New Meat: One is part of the police force. The two protagonists don't even know her name. She retires after a criminal severely beats her face in.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: One member of the Cartel catches a patrol squad, leaving a knife in the eye of one and beating the hell out of a rookie until Taylor and Z show up.
  • Oh Crap!: Taylor and Z know something is really bad when ICE in para-military gear show up.
  • Pet the Dog: After being cavalier with the shootout in the beginning of the film, they show significant restraint when dealing with a thug who viciously attacked two fellow officers. Their Sergeant even said they would have easily been exonerated if they killed the guy, but Taylor just said he didn't feel like shooting someone today.
  • Police Procedural: A good portion of the film is Found Footage-style examination of a ghetto cop's day-to-day life. The bad aspects of the job are often highlighted.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Big Evil has one in his crew. Aside from her threatening and flirting with a female cop and making out with a dancer at a ghetto party, her depravity and sexuality are independent.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Almost happens with Janet, as she uses Taylor's camera to leave him a message after their first night together and she holds up a snub nose revolver he has in his bedroom and asks him to take her to the shooting range sometime. She handles it like someone who doesn't know how to hold a gun, but doesn't make any significant mistakes (ie. finger on the trigger, ignorant of where the barrel is pointing).
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: In the beginning, a black gang is shown complaining about the shifting demographics of their neighborhood, then getting gunned down by the invading Sureño gang.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Why is the Big Bad called "Big Evil"? "'Cause my evil is big."
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The sergeant reveals that he's still suffering from a partner taking a fatal bullet for him, back when he was in the military.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: A good chunk of the characters would qualify to some extent, but Big Evil and his followers particularly stand out in this regard (and among them, Big Evil himself and La La are easily the worst), which is especially notable in a film with as much foul language as this one.
  • Spoiler Title: "End of Watch" is a term used when police officers are killed in the line of duty.
  • Those Two Guys: Officers Orozco and Davis, the female pair, always seem to be the second on the scene.
  • Turn in Your Badge: The rookie hands her sergeant her badge while being carted off to a hospital, indicating her resignation.