Starring: Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke
This month we are going to have ourselves a double threat film. In honor of the Oscars taking place this month and to represent the fact that February is Black History month, I found a film that does justice for both. Well, sort of anyway. The movie highlights Denzel Washington as a skilled actor more so than the character he actually plays in the film, but I think it still works. In Training Day we see Denzel in an Academy Award winning role for Best Actor, which genuinely showcases his talents and range as not only a great African American actor, but an actor in general.
Training Day is a somewhat dark film that depicts a day in the life of two undercover narcotics officers. We have Alonzo Harris (Washington) as a badass detective who slowly morphs into the type of criminal he has sworn to keep off the streets. Washington perfectly portrays the wickedness of a man who could turn his back and his badge on the people and city he is supposed to be protecting. In fact, he is so convincing in this role that he makes me completely forget about the tough, but fair football coach in Remember The Titans and the good guy I imagine him to be in real life and instead makes me want to reach my hand into the television screen and slap him silly. When you match the off the wall (and not to mention illegal) policing tactics of Harris with the naïve and good intentioned personality of his trainee officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke), you’ve got yourself the makings of a wild, thrilling and dangerous ride of a movie.
The only somewhat brief (and I mean brief) comic relief that breaks up the action in this non-stop adrenaline pumping movie, would be the magnificent acting styles of Snoop Dogg, who by the way should probably stick to his music career instead of trying, like many other singers/rappers, to cross over into the acting field. Despite this fleeting comical scene, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t meant to be funny, but which I found smirkable; the rest of the film will leave you with a somewhat eerie and hollow feeling in your gut.
As I watched this film I wondered are some cops really like Alonzo? Can the people we entrust our lives to, the people that swear to protect us really wind up becoming what we fear the most, secret criminals, law breakers hiding behind the mask of a badge and gun that says they are good? Sorry that sort of turned into a rant, but this movie to me was dark and twisted, and I think it was the film’s intention to make us think about it.
The movie progresses with Harris schlepping Hoyt around the streets of Los Angeles and taking him on crazy and dangerous adventures, for better lack of a word, which would make even the cockiest rookie shake in his shoes. Hoyt begins to recognize Harris’ shady techniques in handling his job, this same behavior is shown in the members of Harris’ team as well, illustrating the different level of rogue cops among LA’s finest. Hoyt is too intimidated at first, and too eager to be accepted by Harris, to say anything about it. However, when the stakes gets raised from stealing money to murder and blackmail, Hoyt is in so far over his head that it becomes unclear if he will be able to make it to the surface before he drowns in all the lies that he finds himself swimming in.
Director Antoine Fuqua does a good job here of letting the plot thicken and the tension rise on its own. He does this through the tight jawed and clenched fist stares that Alonzo and Jake share with each other, that makes me want to hide under my blanket afraid that they may shoot me by accident in the cross fire.
Eventuallym when Alonzo takes it too far when he sets Hoyt up, now we can see the bomb about to explode. Hoyt is sick of being Alonzo’s punching bag, something that he thinks he can smack around without being hit back, so Hoyt decides to take matters into his own hands by going after Alonzo himself.
What ensues is a major throw down of good and evil, dirty cop vs. clean cop. There can only be one winner, and with the determination of Hoyt to clear his name and his honor and Harris’ general badassery, it will be a fight too close to call. How will Detective Hoyt’s first day on the job finally end, well you should definitely watch the movie to find out.