By Rych McCain
David Ayer who wrote the script for “Training Day” which won the “Best Leading Actor” Oscar® for Denzel Washington, has now pinned another cop drama that he not only wrote but also directed and produced. “End of Watch” is a cop drama that is as real as it gets. Ayer let’s the theater viewer get a personal take on two L.A.P.D. officers by showing their family life; what the wives of cops go through; how they act at the station; and on the job. This movie takes the viewer riding along on patrol, by giving them a feel of what its like wearing a badge, while dealing with the mean streets on the real.
Oscar® nominated (“Brokeback Mountain), Jake Gyllenhaal who stars as officer Brian Taylor, is teamed up with Michael Pena, who plays officer Mike Zavala. Officer Taylor has a fiancé named Janet (Anna Kendrick). Officer Zavala is married with a family and his wife is Orozco played by America Ferrera. Even though this movie is dead serious, there is natural comedy laced throughout the conversations and interaction between the two partners. Pena explains, “What’s really hard to do, which I’m super proud of, is what we did was like, make comedy out of life. That’s the hardest kind of comedy to do. A lot of the time it was us fighting like, ‘Why did you do that man?’ and the comedy comes out of there. The comedy also comes out of two guys that are brothers who can get mad at each other and be really honest. When there’s a lot of honesty I think it’s an awesome kind of comedy.”
(L) Jake Gyllenhaal (R) Michael Pena
The two actors actually went out on patrol with the real L.A.P.D. Gyllenhaal recalls one incident while on patrol. “We were on a ride-a-long and they took us down an alley way. Then they stopped and took out their guns. We were following them, then all of a sudden we heard this pop, pop, pop, like there was some sort of gunfire. They had thrown fire crackers and Mike and I were like Ahhhh! Ahhhh! Ahhhh!”
Gyllenhaal grew up in L.A. but he says making this film made him fall back in love with the city. He especially learned a lot about the Latino culture. He breaks it down, “When it came down to hanging out in the neighborhood and being amongst the people, 95% of the community there is incredible: the families I’d see; the people I interacted with; the food that was there. Everything there made me fall back in love with L.A. I was born here and reared in a completely different part of Los Angeles. There is that one scene Dave (film’s writer/director) wrote that’s very beautiful. His partner Mike says his grandmother said, ‘If you can live without her then forget her but if you can’t then man-up and marry her.’ This was discussed in the patrol car when officer Taylor was debating about marrying his girlfriend. Gyllenhaal continued, “It’s what I could see being around Latino culture, being around Dave and his family, and all of his friends. That’s was something I took away from that experience and that sense of loyalty. I could go on and on. It changed my life.” How did making this movie change either actor’s perspective on the job of being a cop? Pena responds,”They are actually trying to preserve a lot of good parts of the neighborhood. What makes the news is news. For every one thing that you see that is messed up, corrupt, or whatever you want to say, there’s a thousand actions that you don’t acknowledge, that they don’t see and they don’t make the news. When we were on these ride-a-longs, we saw these guys do a lot of good stuff.”
Rych McCain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook