Most films that use the whole found footage thing rarely turn out as anything more than a cheap gimmick for independent productions. So how does a big budget Hollywood film work out when its main hook is capturing all the action of a crime drama on handheld camera?
End of Watch follows the life of officers Taylor and Zavala as they attempt to become heroes in their field, but fame has a price and it isn’t long before they begin to encroach on a crime cartel. The result of this action is unwelcomed as the duo earn a price on their heads for their deeds from a gang of not so professional hitmen.
As mentioned before, this is a more candid look into the life of a cop, at least in terms of camera work, and while they try to use the handheld camera as a plot device, it seems unjustified aside from it adding a dimension of realism. Still, it’s a big Hollywood film and the acting, while top tier, doesn’t convince me at all – realism deserves realism but regardless of this, it’s a highly entertaining and often extremely gruesome film.
If you like crime drama, this is for you. It’s an interesting film and for potential directors looking into found footage done right, this is a great case study for those looking into handheld done right.
The Bottom Line
David Ayer’s use of handheld candid camerawork may not have been justified well in the film but it works as a tool to add realism and is one of the few films that gets it right. The action is brutal and the acting a class above most crime dramas, but most importantly, End of Watch’s gritty realism doesn’t overpower the solid script despite it being a little on the predictable side.