I wasn’t expecting all that much having turned up for a mid Monday afternoon showing of a cop movie by a director I didn’t know.
Mid November. The Auditorium was nearly full! I was taken aback. And then perhaps 2012’s movie of the year unfolded. (A good starting point was that it was Studio Canal funded. I always like that.)
What follows is 2 hours of engrossing cinema without peer this year. The relationship between Jake Gylenhall and Michael Pena has to be seen to be believed (it maybe even challenges that of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquim Pheonix in the Master). It has similarities to The Master in that the plot is, at best, loose but it matters less here because one is so utterly absorbed in the unfolding relationship between the white and Latino “brothers” and “heroes” that Gylenhall and Pena become.
The movie is episodic. Each building the picture of two committed cops who live for the badge but have a life beyond it. And set in a horrifying community of black and Hispanic (specifically Mexican) warfare and bad Mutha’s. (If bad language offends you I’d give this movie a swift sidestep.)
Shot hand held, with a slightly ropey reasoning for this, it feels as real as a documentary and that’s really the strength behind it. Because you are drawn into the characters’ reality. A reality that revolves around a range of truly harrowing day to day high(low)lights to buddy chat that’s hilarious in a South Central LA that is scary. Real scary because the bad ass men (and women) in this movie are baaaad aaaaass.
It’s brilliantly directed from the off by David Ayer (better known as a writer) and the early scene in which Gylenhall and Pena cruise the streets of LA to the soundtrack, super-loud, of Public Enemy’s “Harder than you Think” really does set the scene.
Later, but early in the development, the boys do a raid on a house, seemingly innocent, the discovery (one of many) that follow actually chills the blood. It’s a jaw dropping moment. And one I won’t forget in a long time . And what’s more, it felt like you were there in the building with them.
This is great movie making. Completely shocking, utterly beguiling. Hard and yet soft. Loving yet hateful.
It’s 2012’s Drive without the gloss.
It’s a 9/10 must see.