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Training Day Movie Review

Training Day (2001)

Rent Training Day on Amazon Video (paid link)
Written by: David Ayer
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, Eva Mendes, Raymond Cruz
Rated: R
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A rookie cop spends his first day as a Los Angeles narcotics officer with a rogue detective who isn’t what he appears to be.

While this is a cop trying to stop a bad guy, the twist is that the bad guy is not only a cop but the boss. Pitting two cops against each other where the rookie has to be subordinate while examining his morals and boundaries is a great dynamic. It’s one crazy first day, but what really makes this memorable is Denzel’s first role as a bad guy. He does such a great job which helps elevate the movie. It’s must see for Denzel alone.
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One of the big things about this was Denzel playing a bad guy of sorts for the first time. It was out of character, but he did such a great job. The movie was worth watching just to see Denzel play against type. This was Fuqua’s second movie and first of many collaborations with Washington.

Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke play Alonzo Harris, Jake Hoyt

Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is a cop in a new unit. He’s nervous on the first day and his boss, Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) is hard edged and to the point. Is he just this harsh or is it a test? Jake can’t do anything right and part of that is Alonzo gives him no leeway. There are no right answers.

After their initial interaction Alonzo begins to educate Jake, but it quickly seems that Alonzo may be operating outside of the law or at least in the gray. Alonzo is charismatic, but you don’t know where the line is. Alonzo puts a gun to Jake’s head, and this suddenly doesn’t seem like training. Alonzo drives this movie. He’s a cop in name only. Jake wants to be part of his squad to further his career, but with every scene he’s being pushed farther outside of his comfort zone. He knows things aren’t right, but this is his boss telling him it’s okay. Alonzo is manipulating him. Jake wants to be in this unit for his career, but  how far will Alonzo go?

Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke play Alonzo Harris, Jake Hoyt

Alonzo’s plans for Jake start to take shape, and there’s nothing altruistic about it. Jake is pinned. If he doesn’t play into Alonzo’s game he’ll lose everything. With each scene Jake has drifted uncomfortably deeper into the gray.

Towards the end, this really ups the tension. There’s quite a few coincidences, but it works for the plot. Jake is finally pushed to make a decision; join Alonzo or do what he knows is right despite the consequences.

Denzel plays the part to perfection. He had always played good guys, and it was a surprise that he could play a bad guy so well. All of the Denzel charm remains present which makes his criminal character so disarming and scary.


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