On average, director and writer David Ayer likes to leave a couple of years between his gritty LA cop dramas but recently this schedule has begun to slip. It was with some sense of relief, then, that I read the news in Variety today that Ayer and producer John Lesher are working on raising finance for End of Watch. While little is known about the film's plot, other than that it's gritty and about a couple of cops in LA, talks are taking place that might result in Jake Gyllenhaal playing one of the cops.
David Ayer's last release was Street Kings in 2008, which featured Keanu Reeves as a grief stricken LA cop accused of killing another, but he is arguably most well-known for Training Day, the 2001 tale of corrupt LA cop Denzel Washington. Other films in a similar vein include Dark Blue, S.W.A.T and The Fast and The Furious.
The exception that proves the rule was U-571, the 2000 drama about the boarding of German U-boat by American submariners intent on capturing the Enigma machine. It was, however, gritty. Ayer has three scripts in treatment at the moment, in addition to End of Watch, and one, Deep Sea Cowboys, tells the tale of the attempted rescue of a crew from a capsized Japanese cargo ship. So underwater drama may feature again in Ayer's career. In the meantime, though, it appears that the pull of the LAPD is still strong.
Jake Gyllenhaal is not known for playing distrusted, corrupt, even dangerous individuals and so if this does come off it will be a change of direction. There were hints of a dark side in Gyllenhaal's performance in Jim Sheridan's Brothers as ex-con Tommy but this had to be controlled due to the nature of the responsibilities forced on the character. It would be interesting to see what would happen if these restraints were removed.
Of course, there is always the chance that End of Watch is about two LA police officers who are content and happy in their work and live fulfilled and giving lives, in harmony with the community that they are proud to serve and protect.
End of Watch will be produced by Ayer's Crave Films and Lesher's Le Grisbi Prods.