Director: David Ayer
Year Released: 2012
A gung-ho Los Angeles police department officer (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins recording his daily activities in one of the most dangerous locations in the city (for a "class project") with loyal partner Michael Peña as the two of them repeatedly get involved with incredibly dangerous situations involving local gangs - their (arguably reckless) tactics eventually get them targeted by a truly dangerous cartel bent on executing them. Though the flag-waving super-patriotism (dare I say Cop Hero Worship?) and sometimes obnoxious 'cinematography' (super shaky home cam y'all!) are serious impediments, I think the interaction between Gyllenhaal and Peña is what holds it together - their banter (was it scripted?) and playfulness make them compelling figures, so when their bravado gets the better of them and they wind up in some dangerous scenario, I can't help but pull for them to come through all right (spoiler: at the end, they take one risk too many). I'll leave it to people-in-the-know to comment on how factually accurate this all is - I find it personally hard to believe notorious thugs would ever compliment or talk to the cops or voluntarily get into a fistfight (for 'respect' I'm taking it) - though for sheer manic energy (testosterone coupled with steroids) it's formidable in parts.