Release Date: 2012
Director: David Ayer
Why I picked this: The trailer looked impressive
While not purely a found footage, the movie certainly contains many elements from the genre. But while most found footage movies are of a more fantastical genre, such as horror (“Paranormal Activity”), monster movie (“Cloverfield”), or superhero (“Chronicle,” my favorite found footage movie), this one is much more grounded and realistic, focusing on two Los Angeles cops on the job. The beginning of the film successfully sets the tone, with a car chase from the perspective of a police camera that ends in violence. After a narration, the violent climax of the sequence has no dialogue, but tells you everything you should expect from the movie: the violence is brutal and jarring, and the two main characters, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña have a strong bond. Their close friendship and partnership is one of the more believable relationships not only in action-heavy movies, but movies in general. They banter, they joke, they talk about their personal lives in detail, and they are loyal to each other; it all feels very genuine. When it comes to doing their jobs, they are effective and get the job done, though sometimes recklessly and unconventionally. The violence, as mentioned, is shocking, not just for its brutal nature, but for its unexpectedness in the moment. The gritty handheld style of the movie mostly works, but there are sometimes where you don’t feel immersed, but rather feel confused on where you are. While the two main leads are fantastic in their roles, there are no memorable supporting players. In fact, some of the minor actors were just bad. Luckily, the actresses portraying Gyllenhaal’s and Peña’s significant others are believable, which adds more weight to their jobs, knowing that they could die in the line of duty and leave their wives behind. The possibility of danger and death is a theme that progressively rears its head through the movie.
Gritty and emotionally charged, this gritty police drama works due to its two lead actors and intense action.