END OF WATCH is anything but a typical cop flick. Written and directed by David Ayers of TRAINING DAY fame, it makes an edgy, gritty, and engrossing film about cops, played by Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal, who are neither corrupt, as in TRAINING DAY, nor of the rogue variety that are out for their own brand of justice. When I spoke to Pena and Natalie Martinez, who plays his wife, on August 28, 2012, that was the aspect of the film that I most wanted to discuss with them. We also had time to cover the sort of preparation each made to play such realistic characters, the way Ayes kepts the actors informally separated into distinct cliques, and, of course, that infamous scene where Martinez’s charcter explains in sometimes graphic terms how a cop’s new bride should go about keeping her man happy. Let’s just say that liquor was involved.
Pena plays Mike Zavala, who along with partner Brian Taylor, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, patrols the uncertain streets of South Central Los Angeles. While making routine patrol stops, or at least routine for the area, the two stumble upon the machinations of a major drug cartel that is gaining a foothold in the United States, an event that will have ramifications that they can’t begin to imagine. The story, told using conventional camera work as well as footage captured by the protagonists, cuts between the personal and professional lives of these officers, revealing how little difference there is between the two. Martinez is Gabby, Zavala’s wife and his rock. The film co-stars Anna Kendrick, America Ferrara, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, and Maurice Compte as Big Evil. It was written and directed by David Ayer, whose previous credits include TRAINING DAY.