Michael Pena’s Academy Award Performance
The Coolist Chick Flick
By Bel Hernandez
End of Watch delivers as an action cop drama to the tune of $13 million dollars and the #1 spot at the box office. The latest David Ayer (Training Day, Street Kings) film takes you on a rollercoaster ride of killings, drug deals, crack heads, human trafficking, and sadistic criminals. But it is the emotional ride that I enjoyed the most, making it officially my favorite Chick Flick in too many years.
Yes, End of Watch is a chick flick in all the sense of the word. Are you kidding me? The gorgeous leading men Michael Pena (Officer Mike Zavala) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Officer Brian Taylor) are enough to get the female fans into the theater. Although you will get all the macho heroics in this film, you will also get a story about friendship. You get to know these officers personally as they ride around South Central LA talking about everything from dating, marriage, kids, quinceneras, and their personal fears. It’s “Guy Talk”. And it makes you care, and root for them, and cry with them. Chick Flick — right?
“I wanted to capture the story of guys that go out there, work hard, do their job, and are fundamentally good people,” said director Ayer. “It’s the reality of it. It’s how cops connect to each other. So this is really about being let into a secret world.” As for the female audience Ayer says, “This film tested very high among women audiences.”
Two characters constantly present throughout the film even when they are not on screen are the women in these officer’s lives; Janet (Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air, The Twilight Films) is Officer Taylor’s new girlfriend and Gabby (Natalie Martinez, Death Race, Detroit 1-8-7) Zavala’s wife of three years.
In their squad car talks, Zavala, who’s been with the same woman since high school, begins to school Taylor on love in a very brotherly fashion. He wants to see his brother happy and loved as he is with his Gabby.
“I always saw Gabby as really strong—she clearly has a deep love for him, but wears the pants in the house. I love the idea that here is this tough street cop, and he’s running around shooting bad guys and hopping fences, and he goes home and he’s like, ‘Yes, dear.’ Could Ayer, who is married to a Latina, be writing from experience?
But the biggest revelation in End of Watch is Michael Pena’s Oscar worthy performance. It is the culmination of a career of excellent work in a variety of roles. He’s played a hero (The Twin Towers); Mexican American icon (Walkout); a locksmith (Crash) and an inmate (Lincoln Lawyer).
There is talk in the industry about Pena breaking out of playing supporting roles. I say he already has with End of Watch. This is his film. He is the heart of End of Watch — in the end he is my Chick Flick hero.
Cast: Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, America Ferrera, Cody Horn, Frank Grillo, David Harbour
Director-screenwriter: David Ayer
Producers: David Ayer, John Lesher, Nigel Sinclair, Matt Jackson
Executive producers: Randall Emmett, Stepan Martirosyan, Remington Chase, Adam Kassan, Chrisann Verges, Guy East, Tobin Armbrust, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director of photography: Roman Vasyanov