Cop drama with Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña in 'End of Watch': movie review

'End of Watch' actor Jake Gyllenhaal gives his most nuanced performance yet as a Los Angeles police officer.

Scott Garfield/Open Road Films/AP
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in 'End of Watch' as a Los Angeles police officer.

The cop drama “End of Watch” is set in the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles and they have rarely looked meaner. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play longtime LAPD partners whose roisterous friendship goes very deep. Both actors are marvelous – this may be the most nuanced and far-ranging performance Gyllenhaal has ever given – and writer-director David Ayer (who wrote “Training Day”) is unapologetically frank about the dangers these men face.

I wish that the Mexican drug cartel subplot was not so overwrought and Oliver Stone-ish, and the decision to shoot much of the film “Cops”-style is also problematic. (The whirlybird hand-held approach is no more “realistic,” probably less so, than using a tripod.) But the film puts you right inside an everyday inferno and, to its credit, doesn’t turn down the heat.

Grade: B+ (Rated R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Cop drama with Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña in 'End of Watch': movie review
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today