End of Watch

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
End of Watch Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Disturbingly violent but heroic depiction of L.A. cops.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byISTHISMOVIEAPPR... November 11, 2020


This movie is only rated R for violence and language.
Adult Written byNathan009876 January 17, 2015

Good, But Not For Faint Hearted

The film overall is one of the best cop films ever made. The film has multiple violent scenes containg drug references and blood spray. There is no sexual inter... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach April 17, 2021

End of watch

I thought this movie was a good cop movie. But the ending is very sad though. I recommend this movie.
Teen, 17 years old Written byNirvanaSamurai2003 July 18, 2020

one of my favorite movies of all time

This movie contains Strong Violence,Strong Language and Strong Mature Themes

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?

Movie details

  • 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
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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