You've seen the buddy cop movie a million times before, especially the mismatched buddy cop movie. Having the police officers come from different racial backgrounds is an especially tried-and-true element of this genre; it allows them to make fun of each other for the way they talk, the stuff they like, the activities that take up their free time. It's good for a reliable laugh, in theory.
You've also seen the found-footage movie a million times before, beginning with the precedent-setting “Blair Witch Project” in 1999 and again in recent years following the success of the low-budget 2007 horror film “Paranormal Activity.” A character carries a camera around everywhere, documenting everything, or maybe a camera just happens to be rolling and it captures secret or strange goings-on we wouldn't be privy to otherwise. It's a conceit reflecting the narcissism of the iPhone generation.
All of this brings us to “End of Watch,” which combines these two approaches: It's a racially mismatched buddy cop movie in which the cops record their daily activities while on patrol, from each other in the squad car between calls to tracking bad guys through the streets of South Central Los Angeles.
But admittedly, the found-footage aesthetic infuses the film with both intimacy and vibrancy; it creates the illusion that what we're watching is unscripted, and so we feel like we don't know what's going to happen from one moment to the next. And co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena have such tremendous chemistry with each other.
‘End of Watch'
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera. (Strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language, including sexual references and drugs use)