End of Watch isn't your average buddy cop movie. Sure, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as two cops who also happen to be besties, but it's a lot grittier than most mainstream Hollywood police movies, which should come as no surprise since it's by Training Day writer David Ayer.
The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last week, follows two young beat cops, Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Pena), who inadvertently get involved in a notorious drug cartel's business. Their naïve missteps leave them marked for death.
While the premise may sound action-packed, it's not just another thriller or action movie. The bulk of the film features some of the more mundane aspects of their lives; we see a lot of the two officers cruising around LA chatting about life and trading barbs to pass the time. We also get a peek at their personal lives -- we see Brian grow closer to and ultimately marry the chipper young Janet (Anna Kendrick). Meanwhile, Mike anxiously anticipates becoming a father as his pregnant wife Gabby (Natalie Martinez) grows bigger and bigger.
End of Watch strives to be gritty and real. This definitely ain't Beverly Hills Cop or Lethal Weapon. The movie's raw feel is accentuated by the premise that the footage is mostly coming from Brian's shaky, amateur video as he documents his day job for a night school project. This results in several scenes that are reminiscent of cop reality shows like, well, Cops.
This got me thinking about other cop flicks that eschew the Hollywood cop flick norm. Here are my top five faves.
1. Se7en. Leave it to David Fincher to put his own distinctive stamp on the crime genre. This dark thriller follows two detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) as they hunt a deranged serial killer who seems to take the Bible a little too literally.
2. Fargo. You don't see a lot of pregnant police chiefs in movies, do you? Frances McDormand is one of the most endearing movie cops ever in this Coen brothers flick about a string of murders.
3. Training Day. Clearly, David Ayer likes putting a unique twist on cop movies. The End of Watch writer/director wrote this film about a loose-cannon detective (Denzel Washington) who totes around idealistic rookie (Ethan Hawke) in his tricked-out Monte Carlo for a day. Crazy (and we mean crazy) antics ensue.
4. Turner & Hooch. Well this one certainly puts a new spin on the cop buddy movie premise. The anal detective (Tom Hanks) is paired with a slobbery mess -- who just happens to be a dog! Like any good buddy movie, the two grow on each other while solving crimes.
5. White Chicks. How could this not be on a list of non-traditional cop flicks? It's not every day you see two black cops go undercover as young white women. Love it or hate it, you can't deny that this was definitely an original take on the cop genre.