Both actors are marvelous -- this may be the most nuanced and far-ranging performance Gyllenhaal has ever given -- and writer-director David Ayer is unapologetically frank about the dangers these men face.
The best scenes are filmed inside the cruiser, dashboard shots that face inward instead of out, catching Gyllenhaal and Peņa in moments so playful and true they make all other buddy cops look bogus by comparison.
It may seem like just another movie about the mean streets of South Central and the blue knights that keep the peace, but writer-director David Ayer focuses on the characters while slowly and subtly bringing the plot up from the background.
What saves this cop show from its predictable tropes and cliches are terrific performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, who've got each other's backs as actors and as "brothers" in law enforcement.
Gyllenhaal and Peņa's relationship, a sort of heterosexual love affair, is depicted with a sense of tenderness and care that does not extend to the cartoonish villains that dominate the film's lackluster final act.
As social insight, End of Watch is useless, but as engrossing entertainment, it's irresistible, thanks to Ayer's gift for dialogue, the relentless pacing set by film editor Dody Dorn, and gorgeous performances by Gyllenhaal and Peņa ...