It would be fascinating to take an LAPD officer to a screening of this slice-of-patrol drama, because to a civilian it seems so authentic in its depiction of police procedures and the scumbags encountered on any given night or day. The movie comes from a long line of “partner” flicks, many of which hurtle toward tragic climaxes. And if the title here doesn’t give away what’s to come, there’s a speech during a party whose foreshadowing you’d have to be dense to miss. But the plot turns that take us to the final scenes are the least of EOW’s accomplishments. Whatever Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña did to bond during pre-production shows up as two men who transcend friendship and a work relationship to become “brothers”, as each expresses so movingly under separate and radically different circumstances. The grittiness of the South Central neighborhoods and the ultimately exhausting profanity and moral sewage that spews from the gangbangers lend heft and atmosphere. And there are strong performances by three women: Anna Kendrick as Jake’s girl, America Ferrera as a cop, and the very scary Yahira Garcia as a murderous chola. This is nothing you haven’t seen before, but you’ll stay with it all the way. — Jeff Schultz

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