Blu-ray Review: End of Watch

End of Watch Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: David Ayer | CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/22/2013 | PRICE: DVD $24.98, Blu-ray $34.98
BONUSES: deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Crime | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD 5.1 audio | English, Spanish, French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

End of WatchThere’s one word to describe crime movie End of Watch: Depressing. And annoying. Okay, two words.

The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code) and Michael Pena (Tower Heist) as rookie cops who stumble into all the best cases. In the process, they get themselves in the trigger sights of the local drug cartel.

Despite a bounty on their heads, the cocky two get on with their lives, with Gyllenhaal falling in love and getting married and Pena’s wife (Natalie Martinez, TV’s Detroit 1-8-7) getting pregnant. All’s good, until the cartel gets closer.

It’s depressing because *spoiler alert* no matter how good these cops are, they don’t win. And even though their shooters end up in the morgue, nothing happens to the cartel, so we know nothing will change. *spoiler over*

It’s annoying because the found-footage style writer/director David Ayers (Harsh Times) chose doesn’t work and gets in the way of what could otherwise be a decent — albeit depressing — story. Found-footage camerawork is never realistic, so End of Watch seems to flip between having a camera pointing at the characters and not. Ayers wants us to just accept that, but when the characters try so hard to point out the cameras in the rest of the movie, it’s just, well, annoying. Seriously Hollywood, found-footage is done.

Gyllenhaal, Pena, Martinez and Gyllenhaal love interest Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) are all fine. And Frank Grillo (The Grey) is good as an emotional older cop remembering the hard times. They have the benefit of a good script that showcases believable characters, which is perhaps the biggest strength of this film.

The high-definition video and audio is good, but the gritty picture doesn’t use the wonderful color saturation Blu-ray is so good at. The audio is where it’s most impressive, with all those gun shots popping out of the speakers nicely.

The Blu-ray has lots of choice in the special features menu, with a bunch of deleted scenes, five featurettes and a commentary. The deleted scenes are the most hefty, but they offer pretty much more of the same of what’s in the film. The last few, however, show footage that would have created an alternate — even more depressing — ending.

The featurettes are quick promo bites that include interviews with Ayers, Gyllenhaal, Pena, Kendrick and America Ferrera (TV’s Ugly Betty), among others. But the purpose is not behind-the-scenes entertainment, but, as I said, promotion for the film.

Finally Ayers chats about his inspiration, research and choices in a feature-length commentary. He even points out where the movie breaks away from the found-footage premise, saying, “You might wonder who’s holding the camera? Well, it’s my cameraman.” Yeah, we got that.

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.