End of Watch (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Audio Commentary-Feaure length by director David Ayer
Featurette-Making Of-Fate with a Badge (2:08)
Featurette-Making Of-In the Streets (2:08)
Featurette-Making Of-Women on Watch (1:58)
Featurette-Making Of-Watch Your Six (2:33)
Featurette-Making Of-Honors (2:03)
Theatrical Trailer-The Intouchables (2:03) : 1.78:1
Theatrical Trailer-Red Dawn (2:26) : 2.35:1
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 108:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Ayer
Studio
Distributor
Exclusive Media
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal
Michael Peña
Natalie Martinez
Anna Kendrick
David Harbour
Frank Grillo
America Ferrara
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music David Sardy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     End of Watch is the best cop movie in years - many years.

     A word which gets bandied around quite a bit these days is visceral, as opposed to cerebral. My mind told me in advance that there were things I would like about this movie - Jake Gyllenhaal for one - and things I would not like. I do not like hand-held cameras. I find this device totally phony in its attempt to be realistic. Then I watched End of Watch and my mind, with its criticism of "realistic" filming techniques, went out the door. I totally embraced this film. It is the most involving drama, brilliantly executed and with a climactic sequence that literally had me breathless.

     The opening frames of the movie thrust us into the front seat of a cop car in the middle of a chase through the streets of the Newton area in South Central Los Angeles. This is the world of gangs, guns and drugs. The cops are both young and bright-eyed. They are Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal), an ex-marine, and family man Mike Zavala (Michael Pena). These two are buddies, working as a team. Much of the film takes place actually in their patrol car between the two central characters. Their action filled days are being filmed by Brian for a class he is taking in filmmaking. Much of the film is made to look like this amateur footage shot by the young cop, and the device works totally - for me at least. By courtesy of dashcam, lapelcam and every other cam in the book, we ride with the two still idealistic cops as their sedan prowls the urban streets and alleys. This footage is supplemented by other material supposedly captured by traffic cameras, surveillance installations or cell phones - criminals even record their own law-breaking. As we ride we learn more and more about these two young officers, often through their wisecracking humour. There is a deep bond between these two, and a shared dedication to their job and its importance. As they move from call to call they unwittingly become more and more of interest to the members of a major criminal cartel.

     Doing their job, Taylor and Zavala move from encounter to encounter, often violent and ugly. There is an investigation of a public disturbance where racist insults are hurled at Zavola. This leads to a fist fight between the officer and his abuser. Later there is a drive-by gang conflict, an investigation of missing children, who are found duct-taped in a closet. An investigation of a drunken house party leads to a terrifying eye-balling confrontation and more violence followed by the discovery of a truck loaded with firearms and money. The pair rescue children from a house fire, and this gains then each a Medal Of Honor. An investigation of another house leads to the uncovering of human trafficking, and the grisly discovery of human bodies. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) officers arrive on the scene and take over, warning Taylor and Zavala to "lay low", that there may be reprisals against them by the Sinaloa Cartel. It is later learned that the cartel has a contract out for the killing of the two officers.

     Seamlessly David Ayer's movie has morphed from a quasi-documentary about the isolated calls made by two Los Angeles cops into a more standard crime drama. There is also a shift from the multi minicam devices to more standard techniques of filming. The movie is not weakened by this shift. In fact, it is strengthened by the enormous credibility these two characters now have in our eyes, built during all those "realistic" scenes. As the film charges toward its quite overwhelming climactic violence we are on the edge of our seats because we really care about these two men. We have seen them on patrol, learning more and more about them as they confide in one another. We have seen them at the station, witnessed the familial bond with others on the force. There is fine work here from David Harbour (TV's The Newsroom), Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) and outstandingly America Ferrara (TV's Ugly Betty). We have seen them with the two women in their lives, and been touched by their honest intimacy. Zavala is married to Gabby (Natalie Martinez of The Baytown Outlaws) , who is expecting their second child, while Brian marries Janet (Anna Kendrick of The Company You Keep), with Mike best man at the wedding. These two actresses have little screen time, but despite that they beautifully create real and touching relationships that add depth and emotion to the unfolding drama. By contrast, Gyllenhaal and Pena are rarely off screen and they are superb. These two actors worked for six months preparing for this film, and the result is two performances of astonishing power and honesty. Jake Gyllenhaal has never been better - not even Brokeback Mountain - and Michael Pena (Tower Heist) matches him all the way. How these two were not nominated for Oscars really damages the credibility of that award - if there is any credibility still exists after this year's Argo fiasco. This is superlative screen acting - no funny make-up or affected voices here, just pure emotional honesty.

     David Ayer, who famously gave us Training Day, must take enormous credit for this film. It is his story, he wrote the screenplay and he directed the movie. His script is terse and funny - like its protagonists. The film is violent, but never gratuitous in that violence. The technique of using a multitude of cameras and the "found footage" conceit is totally successful, even if the plot device of having Taylor filming for his course is a bit clunky. Ayer's filming choices - with excellent work from director of photography Roman Vasyanov (Piranah) - never distracted me, and actually did make me feel that what was on the screen was immediate and real. However, despite the huge contribution of the writer / director, and every other person working on this film, its ultimate success must be attributed to the performances of Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena . Together they create the absolute artistic and dramatic centre of this film, definitely one of the year's best.

     One gripe. There is a very short epilogue, as it were, that should have been scrapped by David Ayer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     End of Watch is a film that does not use standard filming techniques. Given the nature of the film, the Blu-ray rendering is excellent.

     The aspect ratio is 1.78:1, the original aspect ratio.

     Employing as it does a multitude of relatively inexpensive video cameras with a range of capabilities, there are variations in the quality of the image on the screen. There are changes in contrast, shadow detail and colour saturation. These inconsistencies are the result of distinct artistic choices made by the filmmakers in their attempts to make the film look "real", and what we have on this transfer is, I feel certain, an accurate rendering of what was the original theatrical experience. There are some shots which are dominated by browns and oranges, while others are more subdued than we are used to. Generally, however, colours are accurate with bold primaries and very realistic skin tones. Detail on faces, wardrobe, car interiors, and Los Angeles street scenes is extremely good, and there are some startling helicopter shots of the city, both day and night.

    The transfer is artefact free.

     There are English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired (white only and centred at the foot of the screen). These were sampled and found to be excellent.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are three audio streams : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 with audio commentary, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded with narration for the vision impaired.

     This exciting and dramatic film is given a soundtrack to match. The dialogue is basically front and centred, and is crystal clear. There are no compromises in quality here. There is excellent channel separation with the fronts giving an outstanding amount of movement. The rears also give powerful support in the action scenes, such as the car sequences, while providing outstandingly active dynamism to the routine lives of these cops. What we usually refer to as ambience, which can be bland and indefinite, is here peppered with distinct and separate sounds. Dogs bark, doors slam ... there is tremendous detail here which adds even more to our involvement in these two officers and their lives. When needed, as in car crashes and gun fire, the low-end is very strong. Full channel treatment is also given to the music of the film, both original and catalogue.

     The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired is delivered by the usual youngish male voice. I would think that the filming techniques employed here would make this commentary very difficult. For instance on his first appearance Jake Gyllenhaal is described as "a tall bald cop" , which is a bit limited. Immediately afterwards America Ferrara is described as "another cop". This must be a hard task.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Not much here for such an outstanding film. At start up there are theatrical trailers, in high definition, for The Intouchables (2:03) and Red Dawn (2:26).

Menu

     The menu is presented over a black and white montage of scenes from the film. At the top of the screen there is a white on screen videocam display. Music from the film is throughout all menu functions.

Director's Commentary

     This feature length commentary is delivered by the youthful writer/director David Ayer. The soundtrack of the film is turned down to a whisper as the film's creator delivers a flat, though interesting commentary. We hear a lot about the filming technique and choices, and his regard for the police and their work. He discusses the genesis of the film, from his almost obsession with the LAPD and his inspiration to make a film based on "found footage" originally created by an actual officer. Much is made of the authenticity of the film, noting the absence of the traditional "bad cop" character. There is discussion of the script, the performances and the various shifts in POV during the action. Happily the informative commentary is delivered in simple language, avoiding technical jargon. Also covered are the day to day issues of filming and working on locations - getting OKs from all residents before they can use an alley for a scene - all provide interesting stuff. All the usual topics are covered - dedication of the cast is uppermost. Quite an interesting commentary, and delivered with simplicity.

Deleted Scenes (12:01)

     Here we have five short scenes : Scene 21 (1:33), Scene 31 (1:14), Scene 32 (2:12), Scene 48 (2:40) and Scene 52 (4:22). All are presented in the ratio and resolution of the feature itself, but with an increased saturation of colour. (Note in the region comparison below that the Region 1 disc has seventeen deleted scenes totalling over forty-five minutes.)

Featurettes

     There is not much to differentiate these featurettes one from the other. They are really short promo spots, with virtually the same opening and recycling other footage. The quality is very good, comparable to the film, and presented 1080p at the ratio of 1.78:1.

Fate with a Badge (2:08)

     This is a general behind-the-scenes concentrating on the police and their work. There are contributions from David Ayer, the two leads, America Ferraro and Frank Grillo.

In the Streets (2:08)

     This one looks at the camera techniques used, with the dashcam and minicam. As many as four cameras were used to record scenes.

Women on Watch (1:58)

     This time the ladies of the film are the talking heads. Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick and America Ferrara assess the contribution made to the film by their characters.

Watch Your Six (2:33)

    After the repeated opening footage, David Ayer informs us of his real life friendships with cops and his determination to pay tribute to them in his film. Jake Gyllenhaal refers to the director's "inside track" on the force. The cast talk about the interdependence of members of the force, their brotherhood and "what this job really is". For a change we have the LA City Council President on screen for a few seconds of comment.

Honors (2:03)

     Here the director praises the time devoted to the project by his two leads, and their dedication to the project. There is a bit of mutual praise from the two actors, but here it is justified. Anna Kendrick chimes in on this theme as well.

Digital Copy

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The local Blu-ray release misses out on :

Summary

     End of Watch is something very different. The good news is that the hand-held camera technique is not a distraction but rather an integral part of the plot and energy of the film. The film is violent without sensationalising that violence. We are totally involved in the routine of the two young police officers, and follow them, often on the edge of the seat, from one call to the next as we head towards a climactic sequence that has us breathless. Excellent performances all round, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena both sensational. For me they share "Best Actor" of the year to date. The Blu-ray transfer is very good, with a few insubstantial promos and a decent commentary by the director.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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