Writer/director David Ayer has more than a passing familiarity with the heroes and villains of law enforcement. He’s been behind the pen of Training Day, S.W.A.T., Dark Blue and Harsh Times, while stepping behind the camera for the latter film, as well as Street Kings. His latest effort, End of Watch, has him pulling double duty, but giving up some camera control to his principal leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. In bringing some aspects of “found footage” into an action movie following two street cops on their daily grind, Ayer has managed to find another layer of realism that makes his films so enjoyable. Hit the jump for our breakdown of End of Watch on Blu-ray, including the highlight of Ayer’s directorial commentary that makes the film easily worth a repeat viewing.
End of Watch follows Officers Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Peña) from the LAPD locker room to the streets of Newton to Quinceaneras, weddings, medal ceremonies, births and deaths. If Ayer had chosen to go with a straight “good guys vs bad guys” story, End of Watch would still have been enjoyable, but on fewer levels. It’s the scenes of Taylor and Zavala swapping anecdotes or dating advice in the patrol car or of the officers leaving the job behind for the day in order to be with their families…it’s these scenes which humanize the characters and help you sympathize with them at the end of the day. End of Watch isn’t just a term meaning the daily shift is over; it can also be used when one officer’s shift is over permanently.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director David Ayer:
End of Watch is a great film to just pop in and watch when you’re in the mood for some action and humor in a Bad Boys kind of way, but it’s also a great study in the relationships between characters. In his commentary, Ayer makes sure to stress that while the onscreen violence is somewhat stylized for the film, these types of situations have happened and continue to happen. He also makes sure to focus on the theme of brotherhood and the moral code in place between the two protagonists. It all falls apart if you don’t care for Taylor and Zavala, so he does his best to highlight that relationship.
Ayer also makes some great technical notations, which should be of special interest for indie filmmakers on a limited budget and with a tight shooting schedule. Ayer managed to get a ton of coverage in a short amount of time by using the “found footage” style of filmmaking. He also points out the few instances where the first person perspective falls apart, as there’s clearly a cameraman in the room (the only one that was weird was Taylor’s sex scene with Janet, played beautifully by Anna Kendrick). For the camera buffs out there, Ayer gave Gyllenhaal a Canon XA10 for his own independent shots while fashioning Scorpion Micro Digital cameras to the guys’ uniforms. He also used some GoPros mounted to the cars.
If you like locational information for movie shoots or goofs (like a cat unexpectedly running out in front of a chase car in the opening sequence or Peña accidentally crashing into a minivan in one of the last sequences), this commentary is for you. Ayer makes sure to mention their location shoots frequently and also shares plenty of anecdotes from his friends in law enforcement, which adds a whole new level of reality to the film. It’s also interesting to hear him talk about the differences in studio production vs independent production.
17 Deleted Scenes (~50 minutes) – Most of the scenes are extended or alternate takes of scenes you see in the film, but some of them aren’t even hinted at in the movie. There’s an early introductory scene that shows Zavala squaring off against another law enforcement type (he may have been a firefighter, actually) in a boxing ring and later there are alternate takes of Taylor and Zavala debriefing their superiors on the fire rescue, which was an different take on the “found footage” idea. There’s an extended scene with news reporter Serene Branson, who you may remember as the woman who appeared to suffer a stroke on live TV. There is a substantial amount of B-roll that fills up the run time for these deleted scenes, but one scene does feature Ayer as a priest, which is always fun.
Five, two-minute featurettes that were basic behind-the-scenes compilations of commentary from the cast and crew and covered the topics of training, camera work, the women in End of Watch, families and partnerships. Nothing mind-blowing as these were more to sell the film before you see it.
- Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: R (Restricted)
- Studio: Universal Studios
- DVD Release Date: January 22, 2013
- Run Time: 109 minutes
If you enjoyed the film or are a fan of Ayer’s work, End of Watch on Blu-ray is definitely worth a pick up. If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out on rental before buying the Blu-ray because there aren’t many bells and whistles to be found.