End of Watch (Ayer, 2012)

End of Watch is pure frat-boy fantasy, the video game toSouthland‘s great American novel. Sure, Ann Biderman’s superb TNT television program has the luxury of time: Throughout multiple seasons, it’s explored life on the gritty streets of Los Angeles, overlapping stirring, socially relevant vignettes populated by engaging archetypes in order to zero in on the pain of random violence, erosive bureaucracy, and moral dilemmas, all of which resonate profoundly. Conversely, David Ayer’s fidgety pomo genre exercise, essentially a found-footage cop film, never sits still long enough to ponder anything deeper than surface chaos. Here, the immediacy of the kinetic digital image is king, logic and procedure be damned.

Full review at Slant Magazine

Street Kings (Ayer, 2008)

A destructive and unpredictable urgency oozes from the scum-sucking underworld of Los Angeles cop movies. This cinematic unease produces a visceral menace which ultimately overruns the ability of law enforcement to protect the innocent. Random violence and sacrifice rule the roost, even in the most controlled situations. Street Kings director David Ayer’s fourth foray into such terrain (after writing Training Day and Dark Blue while writing/directing Harsh Times), again dives head first into the shallow graves of dirty cops and drug dealers, liquor store massacres and curb side attacks. Ayer’s muse is the shimmer of Neo-noir pavement and the moral complexity of cops turning into murderers and monsters, gleefully capturing the blood and greed of a hard days work. But Ayer’s attention to genre detail doesn’t pave any new ground, nor does it produce the dangerous angst of his better projects Dark Blue has a number of devastating moments of violence which stick with you). Street Kings contains some interesting ideas, but lives and dies on its shoddy foundation, a script that suffers from over-written prose and incessant narrative idiocy. Too bad, because this sort of iconography doesn’t need much help to be electric.