I love Training Day and I don't even know why. I don't really like cop movies a lot. However I do find the gangs of LA fascinating and this movie was as authentic as it gets. Director Antoine Fuqua went right into the heart of gang territory to film this movie. In addition to actors (a great cast, by the way) there are gang members taking part, lending the film some serious athenticity. You can't fake the hardness you see on some of these faces.
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is a young married family man who is looking to score a major promotion to Alonzo Harris' (Denzel Washington) narcotics unit. Their relationship starts off rocky but Hawke proves his mettle through the course of the day. As they make their way through the streets of LA, it is slowly revealed that Harris is not just testing Hoyt for the job, but also for his tolerance for corruption. Harris is not the good cop that his reputation suggests. He is as corrupt as it gets, and he owes people money. He, and his squad, dish out the law and corruption in equal measure.
With a stellar cast including Scott Glenn, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray, Training Day was a surprising film for me that I couldn't take my eyes off. Taking place over the course of a single day, can Hoyt resist the temptation of corruption, or will his morals win out? And if so, will he live to tell the tale?
Bonus features are excellent. Behind the scenes featurettes with Fuqua reveal how they shot scenes in gangland, and there is an alternate ending to consider as well.
This film is among Denzel's best, and Hawke's as well. Highly recommended. A keeper. 5 stars.
This is a crisp, action thriller that focuses on one day, the training day of rookie narcotics undercover cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke). Jake is to be trained by veteren narcotics squad supervisor Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Almost immediately, the viewer discerns that Jake's training day will be unlike any other day he has ever had.
Alonzo is an unbelievably corrupt cop, a once good cop who has lost his way. He now corrupts those cops who come under his command, all for one and one for all. Jake, the newcomer to the group, still innocent and wide eyed about his reasons for being a cop, will be a test of Alonzo's ability to corrupt the seemingly incorruptible. A series of trials and tribulations await Jake that day, situations that in his wildest imagination he could never have envisioned, all of them fiendishly and cleverly engineered by Alonzo. All of them insidious. All of them criminal. The only question is whether good will overcome evil.
Denzel Washington gives a performance of a lifetime and is certainly worthy of his Academy Award for Best Actor. He is at once both repelling and ingratiating as the character Alonzo Harris. His performance is charismatic, commanding, compelling, and completely mesmerizing as the narcotics commanding officer who has gone over the deep end and crossed a line that, once crossed, is final. Alonzo rules his territory and those within it with an iron hand, misjudging fear for respect. Murder and mayhem are the key words of his reign. He also seems to report to a trumvirate of corrupt police officials whom he refers to as the wisemen. Unfortunately for Alonzo, he has come to believe his own hype and bites off more than he can chew, ultimately pissing off the wrong people.
Ethan Hawke gives his best performance ever, imbuing Jake with a vulnerability and innocence that is believable and compelling, making Jake's struggle with his situation all the more angst ridden. It is a balance of the desire to succeed and get ahead with the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong. The viewer sees Jake going along with Alonzo at first, wanting to please his superior officer, even when some of the things Alonzo asks him to do are not only transgressions of police procedure, but violations of the very laws that they are employed as police to enforce. As Alonzo inveigles Jake to cross the line, the viewer can see the struggle within Jake take place, as shock gives way to a struggle for his very survival. The only question is whether Jake's better nature will ultimately allow him to do what he believes to be right. Ethan Hawke's a performance is certainly worthy of its Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
This is a gripping film, with a fair amount of violence. Wonderful performances are also given by Scott Glenn, a drug lord whose dream of retiring to the Phillipines is cut short, as well as by Macy Gray, who is sensational in the role of another drug lord's wife. While some of the film is over the top, it is a film that will not fail to entertain and engage the viewer.
on July 11, 2004
...is what you can call Training Day, the distrubing police epic starring Denzel Washington in an Oscar-winning performance.
Denzel stars as Alonzo, a very corrupt cop playing both sides of the law. He doesn't resort to evidence, or jurys, or interrogations. He just packs brutal violence into his brand of law-making.
Training day is about a young cop's training day, a day that will test if he is good enough material that can become an infamous narcotic officer. His mentor, and mental abuser, is Alonzo. During the day Alonzo sets Jake(Ethan Hawke)up, holds a gun to his head and forces him to use narcotics that destroy his mind, and he makes him assist in murder and robbery. Alonzo teses him, plays with his mind, and puts jake way over his boiling point.
In the end, Alonzo ditches Jake with a gang of Mexican hitmen, leaves him for dead, and goes back to his wife(Eva Mendes) and their son.
Jake finds Alonzo, chases him to a rooftop, and they battle for control over Alonzo's ground. It is a climatic battle of "mentor" and "student".
Training Day is brutal and disturbing to watch and digest. It will certainly make you think about the NARC squad, and will leave you feeling different than when you came in.
on June 30, 2004
TRAINING DAY gives Denzel Washington the chance to act his butt off, and that he does in this vile, irreprehensible film. Washington won an Oscar for his role as Alonzo, a cop gone very, very bad. Taking the stance that to fight crime, one has to be a criminal, Washington takes us through the paces of a dirty cop who will do anything to achieve his own personal agenda. What he does to the Sandman is bad enough, but how he sets up his new rookie partner, is abyssmal and out and out vile! Ethan Hawke is exceedingly good in a role that netted him an oscar nomination as the new rookie who would do anything for his new boss to assure his chances of getting detective ranking. However, as his training day goes on, Hawke realizes just how corrupt his boss is.
The film is slow in the beginning, and by the time it picks up its pace, all I wanted was to see Washington go down. Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin and Raymond J. Barry are wasted in their roles, but in the extras, we get a deleted scene that really shows what their purpose in the film was. Why it was taken out is a mystery to me. The politically correct usage of rappers Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg and the singer Macy Gray continue to show what's wrong with movies these days: go for the youth market, even though the three above mentioned performers are not actors, and they are only used to up the box office potential.
All in all, this is not what one could call an entertaining movie...it's worth lies in the searing performances of Washington and Hawke. Just once, too, wouldn't it be nice to see the corrupted cop be revealed to the public for what he was? No, again, we find Washington's death (spoiler here? Not really) eulogied as a good cop going down while trying to serve a high risk warrant. Cover up cover up.....makes one wonder if there's any cop we can trust? Come on, movie makers, let's show these guys for what they really are, not beautify their deaths. Especially when those deaths were justified!!!!!
on June 22, 2004
Back in the "go go" 1980s, during the heady era of Wall Street "greed," I read an article about a black stock broker indicted by the SEC for insider trading. It struck me that, in an odd way, this was indicative of progress for African-Americans. They had to have access to the inside in order to be indicted for it. In the old days, they never would have had those doors opened in the first place.
Which brings me to "Training Day", in which Denzel Washington delivers an astonishingly good performance as a totally corrupt and evil L.A. cop. The fact that an African-American leading man is portrayed as the "bad guy" is truly groundbreaking, and just another reason to look at this film and be in awe of it. In the same strange twist as the stock broker, here we see a black cop who has all the doors of sin open to him. Like the white cops of the Jim Crow South, he takes to corruption in a way that has no skin color. It is the story of humanity, temptation and power.
Blacks on film have for a number of years now been shown either one way or the other. There is no shortage of depictions of black drug dealers, gangbangers and "homies." Hollywood then tries to make up for it by portraying blacks as doctors, lawyers, voices of conscience or reason, and the most frequent stereotype, the "tough but fair police commander."
The negative portrayals of blacks, however, were never played by big name actors. Washington himself has built a career as a guy more or less saving the world in "Crimson Tide" and "Fallen". His flaws in "Ricochet" are brought out only by a vindictive white man (John Lithgow). In "Training Day", Denzel is all on his charismatic own, a product of a world that he is convinced revolves around him. By choosing to pursue this amazing role, Denzel demonstrates the kind of courage that is rare among actors.
Think of Robert Redford, for instance. Redford never let his hair down. He played heroes and fantasy figures. Every so often, however, a superstar will break type. Paul Newman did it in "Hud". So did Robert Duvall in "The Great Santini".
What is even more astonishing in "Training Day" is not just that a black guy is the bad guy, but a white guy (Ethan Hawke) is a clearly marked, unfettered hero, placed in utter contrast and opposition to the villain. "Candy Man", a B movie franchise of the early 1990s, featured the politically explosive portrayal of a black man slicing and dicing his way through white women, but this was hardly big time fare.
"Training Day" takes all the Political Correctness of the past 20 years and explodes it. Hawke not only is innocent and good in contrast with Denzel, but he is a Lancelot-type figure who comes to the aid of a Latino-girl-in-distress, and later faces torture and terror at the hands of a group of Mexican gangbangers. The actors who portray these guys are so good, so real and so terrifying that if you met them on the streets, even knowing they were just acting, you would be a little frightened.
By no means does "Training Day" leave the viewer groping with the uncomfortable notion that "white is right." The performances are too real and too powerful. It is only in retrospect that one realizes this is truly groundbreaking stuff. Denzel Washington is extraordinary. His performance in this film is among the very best ever seen. There are not enough superlatives, not enough words, than can do justice to his edgy power.
"Training Day" leaves the thinking viewer utterly exhausted and left in some kind of daze, grateful only that they do not live in the netherworld shown herein. Look at Ethan's face when he rides the bus after escaping, through pure luck and coincidence, death at the hands of the gangbangers. He is beaten. His actions afterwards are about redemption, a decision to take his life in a new direction in which expediency and innocence are no longer options. He has been transformed into a reluctant avenging angel, forced to face evil and fear because he cannot turn back. It is the story of Original Sin. Ethan represents what the viewer does not have the gumption to be at this point. The viewer wants only to crawl in a hole and forget what (s)he has seen, but Ethan's character is about the confrontation of good vs. evil that must take place if humanity hopes to advance.
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
on May 6, 2004
I'm having a very hard time deciding how to rate this film, but the four-star treatment is the result of balancing its high and low points. For instance, the overall tone of the film, with its immense amounts of violence and foul language, and completely oppressive sense of hopelessness, is not exactly my idea of a pleasurable motion picture experience. Still, considering the subject matter, it is appropriate and the filmmakers bring it across quite well.
The subject matter is the world of vice cops, and if this tale is to be believed, they're all corrupt. In fact, not only the vice cops but the heads of several major departments within the LAPD are all lost souls without redeeming graces. This is a world where evil battles evil, and the prizes are convictions in court and large amounts of cash. The only real law, however, is the law of the jungle. This is unrealistic to the point of losing its cred, and is overdone.
Denzel Washington earned his Oscar for Best Actor in portraying plainclothes narcotics officer Alonzo Harris, who has the task of training young Jake (Ethan Hawke) in the ways of the trade. Washington does an incredible job of keeping us all guessing as to Alonzo's true nature, as he neatly justifies all of his disgusting and irredeemable actions on the streets, and Jake (and we) continually have to wonder whether to go along with Alonzo or just give up and hate the man. By the time Alonzo's corruption is fully revealed, Jake, the only character in the entire film with a sense of hope, has had his hope dashed as well as us.
All this is beautifully done. Unlike at least one other reviewer here, I had no problem with the pacing, the dialogue, etc., but found the craft of filmmaking quite well done in most respects. The major shortcoming for me, other than the overall filth of it all, was a couple of acting performances that really messed things up.
One of these is a child actor, a kid who plays Alonzo's son. This tyke is detached from his world to a completely unbelievable degree, reacting to everyone and everything with absolute boredom, even an extended shootout in his own apartment. Honestly, the director could have propped up a cardboard cutout of a child and gotten as much out of it. Even worse is Snoop Dogg, who couldn't lose himself in a character if you drugged, blindfolded, and handcuffed him and parachuted him into the role. Oh wait, no need to drug this overrated goof.
Ultimately this is well worth four stars for its effectiveness and for the performance of Washington, a favorite of mine who is brilliant beyond words in this role. Still, the tone and content made me feel as if I'd been bathed in a barrel of filthy oil. I had to take a shower.
I will never forget this film, but I never want to see it again.
on February 18, 2004
TRAINING DAY is one of the most gripping films I've ever seen! Denzel Washington gives a brutal and high-powered performance as frightening and corrupt narcotics officer Alonzo Harris, who teaches the fine line of "right and wrong" to his rookie partner Jake (Ethan Hawke) for 24 hours in the Bowery streets of Los Angeles. Jake is terror-stricken with Alonzo's means of rules with the law and learns he is caught in his deceptive ways of aversion.
Washington proves he's one of the greatest actors in the industry by winning an Academy Award his his most terrifying role to date! His performance was so realistic, I felt like I was in a horror film! In fact it was scarier then most horror movies! He unleashes his dark side in this role, and he succeeds beyond everyone's expectations!
Ethan Hawke also gives a first-rate performance as the honest, but aghast police officer. His fear with Washington's character was so naturalistic, it felt like real terror!
TRAINING DAY may be a bit understated and elusive, and the ending may be a bit sour, but the outstanding performances should help hide those flaws. A great film!
on January 25, 2004
Denzel Washington truly delivers a stunning performance as a corrupted narcotics police officer who has to show Ethan Hawke the ropes of making it in the drugs department. Washington is simply sublime as the supposedly all-knowing police officer who thinks he has the whole neighbourhood under his thumb when he doesn't. However, I think where this film surpasses others of its genre is Hawke's decent performance that complements Washington's. He plays the shy and introverted policeman in a such a way that the viewer can't help but hoping that Washington's character will not betray him but what you see is not what you get in the case of 'Training Day'.
I loved this DVD because it had many great extra features such as the music video and the fact that the film was subtitled in many varied languages. I think it is important for film distributors to know that while English is the dominant language in the world, other people who speak different languages want to enjoy gems like Training Day.
on January 14, 2004
Training Day works because it is pure fantasy masquerading as a reality. The film bends our suspension of disbelief at every moment. We all know that police corruption is a real thing but Lord if a character like Denzel ever walked the street of L.A like that for real he would be dead in a few months. The same goes for Hawke. Both these characters would have a life-span of a Star Trek extra who beams down to the strange planet with the rest of the party.
Denzel practically walks and drives the streets like he owns L.A. The man can go down any alley, go into any house, shot up any gang, beat up rapists, steal money, abuse criminals and have some extra debauchery on the side... all before cornflakes. Ethan Hawke is just a way out his depth as a rookie who gives new meaning that that word. A boy playing the donkey to such extremes that the carrot almost brings him to murder 'cause Denzel orders it.
What makes Training Day so good is that it blends so much reality with so much fantasy that the line blurs to the point where the two are no longer distinguishable. Then the director Antoine Fuqua can play with us all he likes by having the main protagonist abuse the rookie cop at every given opportunity. We buy it. We buy it all and ask for more. Fuqua then gives it to us by taking the whole police corruption element to new heights as a plot involving bent-cop-drug-dealers become the bait and main meal of the day. They even have totally outrageous names like - The Sandman, but still we think that what we are seeing is reality. Fuqua just has us wearing blinkers all the way as he directs us through the streets of crime with Denzel coming up with some of the most memorable lines in a cop drama ever.
The acting is all dark but good. This is a highly enjoyable romp, albeit a totally improbable one, but high-camp stories do not mean high-camp acting. This could well be the B-Movie of cop dramas, but it is just done so well. All the characters are radical and excessive. The plot is almost comic book quality. The ending is totally Hollywood in every department.
This is just a great fantasy cop movie that is worthy of repeat viewings. Fuqua is the master of the suspension of the disbelief here. It is very easy to fall victim to what you are seeing is real. Training Day is just salami, but what tasty salami it is.
on January 12, 2004
Antoine Fuqua has made an excellent film for those who are looking for pure action. If your goal is more intelligent fare this may not be for you.
The story involves a day in the life of LAPD rookie officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke)as he attempts to join an elite narcotics division led by decorated officer Alonzo Harris( Denzel Washington) What Hoyt does not realize is that Harris is not as good a cop as he is made out to be. Denzel Washington (in his Oscar winning role) plays the bad cop with gusto. While it may not be his best performance it certainly is not his worst. Washington comes across as a kind of police version of Tony Montana and the end of the film becomes sort of cartoonish.
Hawke does a good job playing the rookie who makes bad choices throughout the film Fuqua says that these choices are all related to ambition and I will buy into that theory to some extent.
This is essentially a two character film and both leads acquit themselves quite well. Support is offered by Eva Mendes as Alonzo's girlfriend, Macy Gray as the wife of a drug dealer, Dr. Dre as a member of Alonzo's unit and Snoop Dogg as another dealer on the streets. Los Angeles is portrayed to great effect and the texture is suitably gritty. Fuqua shot the film in parts of the city that most tourists don't see and the viewer feels the pulse of the streets.
I will admit that I liked the film more after a second viewing with Fuqua's audio commentary. The disc provides a featurette and trailer plus two music videos.