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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2013

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 "End of Watch" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movies-january-2013-end-of-watch

Synopsis

On the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles, young police officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) are doing their best to protect and serve while making a name for themselves.  Unfortunately, their over-achieving efforts to rid the streets of LA's "finest" citizens gets a price put on their heads by the Mexican drug cartel that runs the city.   

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 50 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera, Cody Horn, Natalie Martinez, and Frank Grillo
  • Directed by: David Ayer
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: None
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Jake Gyllenhaal seems to have a knack for picking excellent projects to work on and "End of Watch" is no exception.  While I'm getting really tired of the "shaky-cam documentary" style of filmmaking, the script, acting, directing, and pacing of this movie was excellent.  Gyllenhaal and Pena have some of the best chemistry I've ever seen in a cop film.  This chemistry, combined with the excellent dialogue, make you feel like the two could be best friends in real-life.  This partner/best friend relationship is the heart and soul of this film, and makes the situations that the pair get into even more impactful.  The whole film is shot using either Brian's hand-held camera or lapel-mounted mini-cams (a film project for an elective college course Brian is taking), so every scene has a great first-person angle that really helped to draw me into the plot, image-shake notwithstanding.  The supporting cast is excellent and mixed well with the lead characters.  Even the gang members were well portrayed, with just the right amount of ignorance and craziness mixed in to make the characters all-too believable.  Action scenes are few, but very well done.  The ending is by no means pleasant, but powerful and emotional.  A must-see in my book.

Technical

With the majority of the film shot by inexpensive digital cameras, the picture quality is all over the map.  The majority of scenes are soft, with some even appearing to be standard definition.  There are lots of flaws in the image, with weak black levels and digital noise/pixilation being the most noticeable.  However, this is exactly what was intended and works for the most part, so I won't bash the picture quality too much.  Colors were somewhat flat, but at least they weren't ridiculously oversaturated.   The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack won't blow you over with insane bass or huge explosions, but I found the soundtrack incredibly effective, particularly since every scene seemed so natural and realistic to me.  Gunshots had just the right impact and tone.  Surround usage was discreet, but helped bring me into the scenes.  During the action scenes the surrounds kicked into high gear, with bullets zipping by and convincing reverb from the many different weapons used.  Voices were always clear, except during a few of the louder scenes where dialogue was intentionally buried in the mix. 

Extras

This is a multi-disc set, including a Blu-ray disc, a DVD copy, a digital copy and an UltraViolet Digital Copy.  There are also director commentaries, deleted scenes, and five featurettes with cast and crew members.