Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
In Los Angeles, a city where streets are overrun by drug dealers, those who have sworn to uphold the law are breaking them to clean up the streets. Denzel Washington plays L.A.P.D. detective Alonzo Harris, a veteran narcotics officer whose methods of enforcing the law are questionable, if not corrupt. 'Training Day' follows Harris as he trains rookie Jake Hoyt over a 24-hour period. Ethical dilemmas arise for Hoyt as well as the audience as questions present themselves as to whether or not Harris' methodology for ridding the streets of South Central Los Angeles of drugs is right or wrong. Written by
Ethan Hawke, bright eyed and innocent, reports to his training officer for his first day on the job in narcotics in the LAPD. He never could have fathomed just how much he would learn on that very first Training Day.
His training officer is Denzel Washington, a thirteen year veteran on the police who's put in a few years in plainclothes in Narcotics. He certainly has the experience, but just what kind of experience and what he imparts to Hawke is the subject of Training Day.
A film like Training Day will rise and fall with the performances of these two characters since one or the other and mostly both is on screen from the beginning. Fortunately both Washington and Hawke complement each other's performances like jigsaw puzzle fit.
It is no accident that Denzel Washington won his second Oscar, his first as Best Actor. This performance is working on so many levels it's astonishing. Washington is at all times, charming, capable, corrupt, violent, street smart, and arrogant. What I liked most about it is how the various facets of this character are revealed bit by bit to the audience and to Hawke though not at the same time.
As for Ethan Hawke it takes him to realize just exactly what he's dealing with in a training officer. Hawke was nominated himself as Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Jim Broadbent for Iris. Still it remains his career role so far.
Corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department isn't exactly a new story. In fact one of the supporting players, Scott Glenn who plays a drug peddler and well, did another film about LAPD corruption in Extreme Justice. LA Confidential also dealt with this issue recently, another fine film.
Denzel Washington is a great example in this film of the arrogance of power. He's a guy who dispenses more street justice than going through the traditional system. So with what happens to him here, he gets one of the best comeuppances ever seen on the big screen.
And I won't say what it is, but you've got to see Training Day to find out.
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