The trailers didn’t do justice to this documentary-style depiction of police work in the rough parts of LA. I expected it to be primarily about a bust that leads to a big shootout, but while that does occur, there’s a lot of other heroic mini-episodes in the movie.
Most of it follows around a pair of gung-ho police officers who don’t quite stick to the book (one has a boxing match with a criminal instead of arresting him, and thus wins his respect) but who have their heart in the right place. They save people from fires, human trafficking, and try to fight against organised cartel activity that’s way too big for them. You also get to see things from the side of a few gang members – the Mexican-affiliated gangs with access to drugs and heavy weapons are gradually displacing the black gangs (apparently they depict real gangs in LA) – and it’s really interesting to see their cultures (one of the new police recruits has words with a former friend now in a gang). Towards the end, the cartel puts a hit on the main characters, leading to the shootout depicted in the trailer.
I really enjoyed End of Watch, despite not particularly enjoying crime movies. The documentary-style approach and the portrayal of the “little things” in the lives of both the police (eg being shooed away by detectives, crossing paths with federal agencies) and the gang members (eg challenging each other to fight as a way to work themselves up to it) give a strong sense of realism, and the feeling that you’re not sure what they’re going to find or encounter next.