End of Watch

  • Review Date: September 19, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Disturbingly violent but heroic depiction of L.A. cops.
  • Review Date: September 19, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 109 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite its strong violence and subject matter, End of Watch has a heartfelt appreciation for the bravery, dedication, and heroism of police officers (without being preachy). Cops are shown risking their lives, saving others, and working together.

Positive role models

Though the two main characters are in a dangerous occupation and could get killed at any moment -- and are prone to using foul language and having occasional outbursts of temper -- they're genuinely brave and heroic, and they work together extremely well. They have a strong, supportive friendship.


End of Watch goes above and beyond the type of gun violence, shootings, deaths, and blood you'd expect from a cop movie. While on patrol, cops discover horrific scenes -- like two small children tied up with duct tape and locked in a closet, a human trafficking ring with people locked up in inhuman conditions, and mutilated bodies. One character is shown with a knife sticking out of his eye. A huge male thug beats a female cop senseless, battering her face in.


Heavy sexual innuendo; characters discuss their sexual relationships frankly. The main character is shown kissing and engaging in foreplay with his girlfriend; sex is implied. The other main character is shown to be affectionate with his wife (who's pregnant). One scene takes place inside a dance club with scantily clad women. Two women kiss during this scene.


A constant stream of language includes hundreds of uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "motherf----r," "bitch," "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "c--k," "hell," "damn," the "N" word, "p---y," "goddamn," "oh my God," and Spanish slang like "puto." "Jesus" and "God" are also used as exclamations.


Mentions of Home Depot and Starbucks.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In a dance club, a character lights up what looks to be a joint. A stash of cocaine is found and shown. Some minor characters are (alleged) drug dealers.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that End of Watch -- a handheld-footage-style drama about two L.A. police officers -- has all of the violence you'd expect from a mature cop story (guns, shooting, blood, dead bodies, etc.) and then some: Gruesome and horrific violence is committed against women, children, and others. The language, too, is extremely strong and constant, with what seems like hundreds of uses of "f--k" (and plenty other salty words, too). There's strong sexual innuendo, and the main characters are shown to be intimate and affectionate with their wives/girlfriends. No nudity is shown, but there are scantily clad women in a dance club, and two women kiss. Drugs (pot, cocaine) are shown and discussed. Still, End of Watch has a genuine high regard for the bravery and teamwork of police officers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

L.A. police officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) claim they see more action in a day than many other cops see in their entire careers, and it looks to be true. During some of their routine patrols, they come across increasing evidence of Mexican drug cartels -- doing business on a scale previously unheard of -- and all the regular codes of the street no longer apply. For a class project, Brian films everything that happens to them, including chases and shoot-outs, as well as shocking, gory discoveries behind closed doors. We also see Brian getting serious with his new girlfriend (Anna Kendrick). But what will happen to her and to Mike's loving wife when the cops find themselves in too deep?

Is it any good?


End of Watch is being advertised as "from the writer of Training Day." David Ayer has written and directed other things, but certainly Training Day is the best of them, and thankfully End of Watch captures some of that movie's energy. Ayer understands the rudiments of a day of work, and viewers see the main characters at all points during their shifts -- bored, tired, waiting around, as well as the more exciting stuff. The movie overdoes it a bit in terms of the frequency and intensity of exciting stuff, but it's easily forgiven.

The movie's best attribute is the strong chemistry between the two main characters. Their banter and bond seems genuine, and it's infectious. The movie's clandestine video-camera style works to capture a unique, intimate rhythm, but it also raises questions of practicality: Where did the footage of the bad guys come from? Did they film it themselves and then donate it? Regardless, End of Watch is still an intense, entertaining drama.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about End of Watch's extreme violence. How much of it was necessary to tell the story? Was it thrilling or frightening? How does its impact compare to the gore of a horror movie?

  • Are these characters role models? How does the movie make you feel about police officers?

  • Why do you think language and sexual innuendo are so strong in this movie? Do these characters need it for a release from the pressures of their job? Why?

  • The characters place a great deal of importance on family, wives, and children. Does their job's dangerous nature increase the need for a family?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 21, 2012
DVD release date:January 22, 2013
Cast:Anna Kendrick, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena
Director:David Ayer
Studio:Open Road Films
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use

This review of End of Watch was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byStevie111 September 23, 2012

Mature and Violent police drama should be fine for older teens

You really need to know your kid for this one. 15+ should be fine, but images are very disturbing and graphic. There is also extremely constant language. This movie had a great story was and was good.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byJeffrey9789 September 23, 2012

End of watch is a good action film.

I like end of watch because of the story line,the action,and the conversations. If you like a cop film that is serious this one is for you. See this film in theaters at the matinee.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byslimshady24 September 26, 2012

Gritty, Compelling Cop Drama is too intense for kids.

Saw this today. I'm 15 and my friend and I snuck in. I'm pretty mature, so I'm going to say that this really is not a film for people my age. There is a lot of gritty and brutal violence, that becomes almost upsetting in the end. There is also constant, and in certain scenes, every-other-word strong, pervasive language. There is some marijuana use, and the two police find stashed Cocaine, all though none is used.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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