A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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?
This engaging, action-filled movie 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: September 21, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2013
- Cast: Anna Kendrick, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena
- Director: David Ayer
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.