Thursday 13 December 2012End of WatchJake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña team up in this gritty, yet moving,LA cop thrillerBy Jenny McCartneyDavid Ayer’s End of Watch, set in the LA policedepartment, is a grittier, more satisfying affair. Ayer,the writer of Training Day, has an instinct for theedgy atmosphere and difficult choices involved inpolice work in deprived, gang-ridden areas.Here, he follows two cops, Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (MichaelPeña), to some very dark places indeed. Taylor himself is documenting his work on a shakyhand-held camera, as part of a study project, a conceit leading to a choppy mix of shootingstyles which is often an unnecessary distraction.At the heart of the film is the relationship between Taylor and Zavala, an inseparable duo.They are still young and rash enough to be idealistic and reckless about the job and theopportunities it offers for testing their mettle (on one occasion, when they endanger their livesto pull children from a blazing building, Zavala’s pregnant wife and Taylor’s girlfriend are notcongratulatory, but angry).Their willingness to risk more than the average cop leads them to stumble upon a bigger evilthan they had imagined – connected to a Mexican drugs cartel, Hollywood’s new byword fororganised terror - with commensurate danger for themselves.Solid heroism is a hard substance to digest, and Ayer successfully leavens it with the ordinaryfunny, enchanting or irritating stuff of life: Zavala’s long-standing relationship with his wife(Natalie Martinez); Taylor’s first discovery of a serious girlfriend (Anna Kendrick); and theirendless culturally-charged snappy banter (Zavala is of Mexican origin, Taylor white), which isdeprived of all sting by their evident well of affection. “I’m taking Janet to the Philharmonic,”says Taylor. “Enjoy your white-people s---!” Zavala sings out.Yet the normality and happiness they both strive for at home is contrasted with the grislydysfunction, and worse, that waits for them behind other front doors in the city: crack-addicted mothers, sadistic boyfriends, drugs and mass-murders. If Taylor and Zavala have aflaw it’s that they are not easily frightened enough.Gyllenhaal and Peña evoke a convincing dynamic forged in boredom, fear and deep loyalty.The characters love each other, and you like them, which is why Ayer’s violent, foul-mouthedthriller succeeds in moving more than most.