It is a bit surprising that there seems to be a lack of interest in discussion of this film.
I watched it last night and was totally blown away by the grit and realism of the movie. The performances by Gyllenhaal and Pena I thought were spectacular. The chemistry between the 2 of them was like none I had ever seen in a cop drama.
Living in L.A., I could totally relate to the brutal depiction of gang/thug life in this city, although it may seem to some that the portrayal of crime as it was seen in this movie was a bit over the top, and there are some really brutal scenes shown in gut wrenching reality. There are some true badasses roaming the mean streets here.
The story was brilliant, the acting was amazing and the portrayal of day to day life for LA cops on the streets of the toughest neighborhoods in this city was as close to reality as I have ever seen.
The one irritating thing about the movie, I thought, was the POV "shaky cam" in every scene got to be a bit of an annoyance after awhile. I get what the director was trying to do here, trying to portray the movie as sort of documentary by the cops (and crooks too btw), but it just seemed to be a bit too much of a stretch. I mean, there were some scenes where you just wonder, who's holding the cam or, why would they be holding and filming with cam in this situation. But after awhile I just suspend disbelief and go with the flow. Besides that flaw, which some may find to be unforgiving, I felt the film was strong enough on it's merits of story telling and action to highly recommend it.
I can't really comment on the picture quality or use of sound envelopment in the movie cause I watched a streamed version on XBMC (so sue me...lol) in 720p and PLll, but I will absolutely be buying this on Blu-Ray when released.