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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Training Day" is an awesome film with one of the most memorable
character of the 2000 through 2009 decade.
Alonzo is one of the best characters in recent memory and one of the best villains in movie history. He begins the film as a good guy, showing Jake the ropes. He quickly becomes questionable with his techniques that just don't feel right. As the film goes on it is clear that Alonzo is very, very crooked and needs to be put in his place. There is a very memorable line from Alonzo during his drastic downfall, which is, "King Kong ain't got s**t on me!" The way that Washington delivers that line during Alonzo's monologue is magnificent.
Beyond the fantastic villain character, "Training Day" has a great script. Yes, it is unlikely that all of this would take place in just one day if this was real life, but I firmly believe that that notion of reality can be stretched at times in cinema. There is little to be said on the plot, but it is just very well written and executed.
Jake's good natured personality is a good opposition towards Alonzo, but his character is left in the darkness next to the brilliance that is Alonzo.
I highly recommend this film. It is a fun story with a very memorable character.
The ending was a bit of overkill. That could be said. And the
mano-a-mano fight après the ending was a bit drawn out. That too could
be said. But the rest of the film was more than excellent.
"Training Day" is the best of the bad cop dramas that I have seen, and I've seen a few. Both Denzel Washington as the psychopathic bad cop, Alonzo, and Ethan Hawke as the idealistic rookie, Jake, were full out. Denzel Washington won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance, and Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The direction by Antoine Fuqua was superb. The LA street scenes and milieu were as real and vivid as my old buddy Taco Bender. (And trust me, Taco Bender was very real.) The extras in the crowd scenes should get some kind of prize for macho scary. I've been there, and I still have a few nightmares. There are some streets in LA you don't want to walk down unless you are a homey, or a brother, and some other streets you don't want to walk down, period.
Unlike some cop dramas and shoot 'em up thrillers, this one was carefully planned, so that the scene in the barrio at the card table, the rook all alone set up for the kill, came across as real because what had happened before was just about the only thing in the world that could have saved him. The LA atmosphere was like a rush, as stunningly authentic in a different way as, say, that in Chinatown (1974) or LA Confidential (1997), but more contemporary.
I wonder how many guys starting in say the sixties or maybe a little before have experienced the kind of initiation that Jake experiences in terms of being fed some dope never before tasted and then "led" on the "trip" by someone wanting to exploit them. Most of the time, for most guys it was an initiation into something other worldly, scary, but something that was only psychological and would be gone the next day. For Jake it was a matter of, first, his livelihood as an idealistic cop, and second a matter of groking to a paranoid view of the world in which the good guys are the bad guys and everything is hopelessly corrupt and there is no good, only eviland you just found out. And third, a matter of life and death with either acid and grass running all around your brain or maybe PCP and speed, and some suddenly obviously evil person (as Washington so well depicted) giving you the kind of "guidance" you can't refuse. And then finally it is beyond life and death and only a matter of primeval justice and a revenge you must perform.
Look for Snoop Dogg in a wheelchair and Dr. Dre as one of Alonzo's posse cops.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In re-visiting TRAINING DAY (2001) recently, I have absolutely no doubt
that Denzel Washington deserved his Best Actor Oscar. He makes the
absolute most of this role and is magnetic as corrupt narcotics cop
Alonzo Harris. The main thing that I like about this performance is
that Washington played it as a totally corrupt and unscrupulous man who
once, a long time ago had wide-eyed principles of doing good and
cleaning up the streets. But he lost his way to the point there is no
In walks newly promoted young Detective Jake Hoyt (played superbly by Best Supporting nominee Ethan Hawke, who in reality has more screen time than Washington), Alonzo's new 'trainee'. Jake is who Alonzo used to be with a MAJOR difference...Jake is incorruptible! He refuses to give in to the seduction of the quick buck and giving up on humanity. And in the process, Jake is the one who proves to be the strongest of the pair. Even with his Oscar nom, I feel like Hawke's work goes unnoticed as he essentially is the true heart and anchor of the film. Jake could have easily come across as a fake, stereotypical, do-gooder character, but in the end, he makes the viewer believe in Jake's unflinching valor. We care BECAUSE OF Jake!
Initially, a had a problem with the film taking place all in one day. While I still think that it's a bit unbelievable at times, I really appreciate how gritty and realistic many of the characters and situations translate to the screen. While there are hints of preachiness and convolution, the film still draws you into it's dangerous world in a very provocative way; it manages to stay a step ahead of the typical tale-of-the-streets, mainly due to many intense scenes and strong acting. I really didn't appreciate all of this when I first saw it, being totally awed by Washington's transfixing performance and ignoring how good a movie I was actually watching.
Director Anton Fuqua did an amazing job not just with Washington and Hawke, but with the entire cast as well, with standouts being Scott Glenn (as the biggest street dealer in LA) and Cliff Curtis as a young Hispanic ganglord who actually shows signs of nobility. Addititonally, there are effective cameos by famous rapper-musicians Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Macy Gray. But the obvious standout is Washington, whose powerful performance wholeheartedly deserved the Oscar...And he got it!
Over the years Denzel Washington is known to playing either heroic
leading characters or historic people (Malcolm X, Herman Boone), but
now he gets to play the villain for the first time where I couldn't
keep my eyes off of him when he first made his appearance as Alonzo
"Training Day" is really about Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke in a different turn from Indie films), a trainee for the Los Angeles Narcotic Division where he wants to put away the bad guys just like all good cops are suppose to do until he meets Alonzo, a bad-ass happy trigger cop who knows everything about the city of Los Angeles from the Vatos, the druggies, the pimps, the cripples, the gang members who alert Alonzo, and so forth where he also speaks languages.
Hoyt thinks that all he's doing with Alonzo is part of a routine...he's wrong about one thing.
From one event to another Hoyt is either being dragged or coaxed by Alonzo from taking drugs, being part of a set-up after a murder where now he doesn't really know if being a narcotic officer is the line of work for him.
"Training Day" is an insane ride where Denzel takes the screen like a madman tied to a bomb not knowing when he's going explode; he takes the term villain to a whole new level especially in cop corruption. Ethan Hawke is outstanding as the new rookie where other performances from Scott Glenn, Macy Gray, Dr. Dre, Tom Beranger, Peter Greene and Snoop Dogg shine out as well.
Denzel Washington plays Detective Alonzo Harris, a hardnosed, street
savvy narcotics cop given charge of rookie cop Jake (Hawke). As Jake's
'Training Day' progresses he learns that his Police Academy rules don't
apply in Alonzo's world, and with increasing concern, not to mention
personal jeopardy, finds that Alonzo, some of his fellow detectives and
even higher officials in the LAPD, have distinct rules of their own.
Not an original premise, but here the delivery is bang on. Washington plays on his past comfortable screen personas, initially coming across as the experienced, tough, no-nonsense, but well meaning, detective. We of course, like Hawke's character Jake, a rookie eager to please, are initially taken in by this, but it is not long before doubts about Alonzo's true nature and agenda start to kick in.
There are many disturbing things about this film, not least of which is the fact that no-one has come forward to say that it ain't really like that on the streets of LA in fact they endorsed its accuracy by giving Washington an Oscar for his portrayal.
However, Washington's performance is electric and worthy of its Academy Award. Alonzo is charismatic, persuasive, powerful, dangerous and downright scary. Ethan Hawke compliments this with a portrayal that runs the gamut from initial naivety and respect, through wary tolerance, to disbelief, terror and finally rage, in a performance necessarily powerful enough to counter Washington. The two are equally compelling to watch and provide edge of the seat entertainment in a gripping, raw and violent tale of lies, betrayal, corruption and abuse of power (sorry to use the old maxims there, but here they actually apply).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Denzel Washington delivers a dynamic performance easily worth an Oscar
as a rogue cop in director Antoine Fuqua's gritty urban crime thriller
"Training Day," co-starring Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Snoop Doggie Dog,
Macy Gray, and Tom Berenger. This unsavory but exciting R-rated law &
order melodrama paints a considerably less than flattering portrait of
police corruption in Los Angeles. Essentially, scenarist David
("U-571") Ayers has exploited the recent Ramparts police scandal in the
L.A.P.D. as the basis for his controversial but contrived screenplay.
While he infuses the film with his charismatic personality, Washington
goes against-the-grain for a change as a dyed-in-the-wool villain who
won't hesitate to double-cross friends. Not only does bad-ass Denzel
tote a chrome-plated automatic pistol under each armpit, but also he
cruises his asphalt domain in a customized obsidian-black 1978 Monte
Carlo. Gear heads will drool over Denzel's ride which doubles as his
office. As an extension of Alonzo's amoral character, the Monte Carlo
compliments his roguish personality. Sadly, as psychological actioneers
rate, "Training Day" lacks the tenacity that Washington imparts to his
warlord-like antagonist. Fuqua and Ayer employ sentimental stratagems
to align our sympathies with Ethan Hawke's half-hearted hero who turns
wimp in the end. Surprisingly, unpardonable logistics sabotage Fuqua's
mise-en-scene, especially in a rooftop foot chase! Further, the
filmmakers bank on sheer coincidence to bail out the hero. A "Scarface"
inspired scene as Latino gangsters prepare to ice our hero in a bathtub
illustrates the worst of the coincidences. Ultimately, if "Training
Day" constitutes the best Hollywood can offer as a cautionary tale
about police corruption, we're all in trouble. Basically, the Darwinian
message of "Training Day" is big-fish eat little-fish, or survival of
the fittest, so what does it matter if how criminals buy it in the end
if justice is served? As cynical as "Training Day" tries to portray
itself, it winds up as a formulaic but flawed thriller about legal
courtroom justice versus street justice.
Basically, this abrasive but standard-issue buddy police picture does nothing countless other thrillers like Sidney Lumet's "Serpico" (1973) haven't done better. Specifically, "Training Day" resembles a white-washed version of director Abel Ferrara's uncompromising 1994 dirty cop saga "Bad Lieutenant," starring Harvey Keitel as a heroin-shooting, trigger-happy, N.Y.P.D. detective in deep trouble with loan sharks. Like the Keitel character, Washington's renegade cop shoulders his share of problems. He has teed-off the Russians (presumably their mafia) during a wild and woolly weekend in Las Vegas, and they want payback. Even Alonzo's police superiors refuse to believe he is anything more than a walking dead man. Alonzo aims to prove them wrong and his narcissism makes him perversely appealing. Some of the problems with "Training Day" is what we learn about Alonzo's off-screen activities seems more interesting than what we see him do. Take the encounter with the Russians in Vegas. Apparently, Alonzo snapped, killed a guy, and the Russians have dispatched hit men to get him the same way the Colombians nailed Al Pacino in Brian De Palma's "Scarface." Nevertheless, Alonzo never loses his cool in "Training Day," because he believes he is in control, particularly with regard to a rookie auditioning for the sixth man slot on his elite team.
"Training Day" chronicles a 24-hour span in the life of young, idealistic, rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke of "Dead Poets Society" & "Hamlet") who wants only to 'protect and serve' the public. Since joining the Los Angeles Police Department 19 months ago, Hoyt has been angling for a big break. Thirteen-year veteran L.A.P.D. Det. Sgt. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington of "Remember the Titans"), who heads up an elite narcotics squad, provides that break. Harris gives Hoyt the chance of a life-time to prove he can perform undercover without getting himself smoked by a paranoid drug dealer. If Hoyt can make a favorable impression on Alonzo, he assures his young beautiful wife breast feeding their 10-month age, infant daughter they will be bound for a better life.
As a typical, formulaic American movie, "Training Day" relies on rewards and punishment to shape its morality. Hoyt interprets this assignment as his ticket to the big time. Not only is Hoyt in for a rude awakening, but also so is the audience. By the time those fateful 24 hours elapse; Hoyt will emerge as an entirely different person. His saintly ideals will be tarnished as well as his own sense of innocence. Anyway, Ethan Hawke gives an evocative performance, but the actions of his character ultimately undercut the brilliance of his acting. He plays a stereotypical hero who balks at doing what a hero's got to do. Hoyt's last confrontation with Alonzo underlines the weakness inherent in Hawke's character. As the young, hungry cop, Hoyt represents hope, so his refusal to rub out Alonzo smacks more of political correctness than dramatic closure. Similarly, "Training Day" compares these two characters and reminds us in no uncertain terms who epitomizes good and evil.
Director Antoine Fuqua, whose credits include "The Replacement Killers" and the slick Jamie Fox caper "Bait," gives "Training Day" a sleek, sharp, and snazzy look. Unfortunately, while the movie amounts to a visual feast for the eyes, David Ayer's script degenerates during the second half of the action. The hero stands for law and order, but he refuses to get himself dirty do his job. Clearly, "Training Day" contends that what you sow, so shall you reap. Anton Fuqua and David Ayer have made a passable film that provides reassurances if the cops cannot take care of corruption, then criminals will.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Police corruption is a topic that is used numerous times in films to the point of annoyance, but this one makes it much more gritty and realistic than any example I can think of. I'm always a fan of the 'Good v. Evil' scenario and this one employs it perfectly. The polar opposites that the film creates in Alonzo and Hoyt (the former being completely corrupt, the latter being completely pure) are very interesting and the balance between them kept me engaged the entire film. As we watch Hoyt try to understand this new world that he's been thrown into, while still trying to keep his morality and good nature intact, we realize (just like he does) that there is no right or wrong. You have to create a balance, because the line 'It's not what you know, it's what you can prove.' couldn't be more true, so sometimes that's why you have to bend the rules in order to bring the bad guys down. The ending is one of my all time favorites, as Hoyt leaves Alonzo to be murdered by the numerous men out to get him because he can't arrest him and he can't kill him himself. Brilliant. Both of the lead performances are excellent, and Denzel's win was fully deserved. His charisma and the fact that his character was so against his normal 'good guy' type made for such an interesting and ethereal portrayal of one of my favorite characters. The only thing that I wasn't a fan of was the huge coincidence that the girl Hoyt randomly saved from being raped just happened to be the cousin of the man who was about to kill him. I found that insanely dumb, but it didn't affect my opinion on the film at all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Id agree with everyone who liked this movie but think of this Ethan Hawke was the main character therefore he was the main actor the protagonists he should have won the Oscar because he was the main actor, Denzel was the antagonists and the secondary actor and therefore the supporting actor... the only reason he won is because he was more known. don't agree with me think of who the MAIN CHARACTER. So therefore the that is why I hate Hollywood, i admit Denzel is a good actor a very good one. But he was the supporting role... I think I have to keep saying this I liked the plot twists, the way everything fell together at the end and how everything especially the mafia shooting at the end... so there you have it people.
this is simply a very good movie! Ethan Hawke was great and Denzel
Washington - just outstanding and so inspiring as the villain.
This is a story about who you are, what do you want to be, and what price you are prepared to pay to get there (as a side note - remember the ad in the NY sub - 'how bad do you want to be good' :)
A story of corrupt cops, duty, the line between good and bad. It is interesting to see the people Jake(Ethan Hawke) meets during his first 'training' day in this new team. Interesting to see how people, who we initially take for 'bad' guys care more about honor and duty than persons who's 'job' it is to protect these values
Eva Mendes also has a small role too, that for me is hilarious, but i guess this was just a step forward for her towards 'star'-status later in her career
9/10 for story, acting and production
Training Day is the story of a man's first day as a narcotic's officer. He joins to protect the community and seemingly his wife and infant child. But his partner (Washington) gives much, much more than he bargained. This is a wonderfully looking film that starts out very strongly and has some really intense scenes that do stick with you(particularly the climax, a scene in an alley, and, well, I'll let you be surprised). There are a couple plot holes and you have to watch and listen carefully to understand everything that' going on, but it's well written with a couple of clever twists in between. The ending is a little formulaic, but that is saved by a powerhouse, Oscar winning performance by Denzel, and an equally intense Hawke. This is the best film on Fuqua's line of action drama's. With the exception of Lightning in a Bottle of course.
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