Watching this film was quite an experience. It really gave a nice rundown about what it is like as a police officer in a highly dangerous area to patrol. The casting was fantastic and the direction by David Ayer, the same director who brought us The Fast and the Furious (2001). He also wrote the screenplay for this film, which as it turns out worked out extremely well. Depicting the underbelly of Los Angeles this director captures some key moments in this heart felt film. It reminded me of the 1991 release One Good Cop starring Michael Keaton and Anthony LaPaglia.
David Ayer also previously had written and directed the film Harsh Times (2006) starring Christian Bale and directed the film Street Kings (2008) which starred Keanu Reeves among others.
This film is another example of having one person in charge of a vision versus several people. The creativity was there and accomplished quite perfectly. Honestly, I can say that this is one of the better films – I’ve seen in recent times. From the very start to the finish, it was engaging and keeps you along for this unique ride through south central Los Angeles – watching and waiting for what happens next.
The city area is made up of some near 4 million people, and there are so many different cultures and backgrounds it has become quite diverse. The film shows how this clashes with gangs and religious beliefs. There are some disturbing scenes within this film, that will leave some people grossed out. So, if you are feint-hearted, I suggest you not watch this one.
The central two characters are played by both Jake Gyllenhaal as Brian Taylor and Michael Peña as Mike Zavala. Both of these guys should have won an award in my opinion; for their performances in this film. What helped give the film a sense of action, was how it was filmed a lot of times through a first person perspective. This was imaginative and done to give you a sense of being there with the characters, seeing what they go through. At times it was an adrenaline rush, and exciting to see.
There are more well known actors in this including: Anna Kendrick who plays Janet and America Ferrera (from television’s Ugly Betty) who plays Orozco. Natalie Martinez plays Gabby, Mike’s wife. I thought the choices for these roles were intriguing.
The film is gripping and raw, it really shines the light on what officers risk in the line of duty, how they grow together as a family of comrades. There is a fine line of both good and evil with choices to be made along the way. Each action they do is captured through video kind of documentary style and shows how they get through their day slurping down on coffee, and energy drinks meanwhile trying to stay awake in the late night hours.
If you wondered what it might be like in an extreme case of becoming an officer, this may give you second thoughts. The sheer amount of danger these people face day in and day out is overwhelming. There is drugs, sex, child abuse, human trafficking, shown in this story. This is all being serenaded by hip hop music in the background. Often they are dodging shady characters and bullets trying to do the right thing. That is one important message this film makes, and it really seems to showcase it along the way.
With the amount of dangerous characters in this cold and calculated world there is a lot at stake just trying to get through the day. These officers lay everything on the line like true old west gunslingers upholding the law.