Training Day is one of those movies that I’ve seen countless times. It’s one of the first DivX pirated movies I bought and boy did I hit a jackpot or what. Although I have seen it during my “formative” years, it stood the test of time. Featuring almost a noir vibe, this movie has something magical about it. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Shooter) and written by David Ayer, this is the first part of his police pentalogy. Here’s the list, so if you’re looking for something to watch after this masterpiece check out: Dark Blue, S.W.A.T., Harsh Times, and finally End of Watch. Of course, after you had enough, you can always switch to Undercover Cop Movies.
Shot in 2001 marks the successful transition from hood movies of the nineties that already got that vintage look to more modern and visually appealing releases. It feels like you’re watching a GTA San Andreas movie. A video game inspired by some of the same stuff this movie was. You should also know that Training Day was inspired by real events. I will leave the links for that after the review if you want to know more. Hard-boiled, ruthless, truthful, and above all entertaining, this is one of the best police thrillers out there. It features such explosive and satisfying storytelling that you will be completely captivated by it. The shit is fucking mythical.
Training Day is mostly about one man, Alonzo Harris. Sure, we have the whole young apprentice thing going on but the focus is squarely on this larger-than-life personality that “King Kong ain’t got shit on”. And I know all about stereotypes, pulpy action, and machismo overload that many of the viewers complained about. Movies are not an educational tool! They are an artistic expression that shows us who we are. And I know it’s hard to grasp just how fucked up our tribal society is but you simply have to do it. Alonzo is an alpha male and while certain aspects of his personality are clear as day, we must admit that he is that. But, I don’t want to bore you with this whole morality tale because it has little to do with this masterpiece.
Young and perspective member of the LAPD, Jake Hoyt, is up for promotion. He just needs a little bit of experience to finally get it. Something that one day with Detective Alonzo Harris, an experienced narcotics cop should sort out. And it will be one hell of a day.
It is so exciting to watch how Denzel brought to life Alonzo, with authority and ease. He still maintains that that Detective Alonzo Harris is his favorite character. Man, I remember watching him in Ricochet during the nineties and thinking just how smooth he is. He was also a cop in that movie, but a different kind of cop. Ethan Hawke was excellent as this innocent and confused rookie. His character was essentially the viewer, taking a ride with the big dog into the world that we rarely get the chance to see. I mean, the entire cast of Training Day is simply stellar. You have Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Raymond Cruz, Macy Gray, and sexy Eva Mendes, what more to want? Perhaps Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog, but this movie’s got them too.
Training Day is also a movie about gangs and corrupt police officers partly set in the hood. It’s an exciting, entertaining, and above all very well crafted thriller that influenced a lot of subsequent movies and television shows. The Shield is perhaps the best example. Unfolding over the course of 24 hours, the story throws us in the thick of it almost immediately. Once we’re hooked the atmosphere thickens and suspense just keeps increasing and increasing. It’s like we’re on this fucked up and very dangerous adventure feeling at the same time, safe, because of Alonzo, and scared shitless, also because of him.
As I’m writing I know this movie by heart, so many scenes are flashing before my eyes. From Blue rolling down the street over breathe, Roger, breathe to the infamous bathroom scene. As I kept rewatching it over the years, different aspects kept popping up. For example, in the first part of the movie, with Alonzo breaking Jake feels like your first day at a new job. With more experienced people fucking with you and wielding their power in an unjust way. The same way they expect you to wield it when the new new guy shows up. The concept is one of the cornerstones of tribal values, a passage into manhood, clearly defining the elders and rules. Rules that are very unjust, fake, and just plain sadistic.
Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant examined similar issues but from a completely different aspect. That’s a far more serious and much less pulpy movie than Training Day. Finally, I just want to mention that sleek and very appealing cinematography. It’s just so damn beautiful and fucking immersive. You will feel like you’re actually there, in the hoods of Los Angeles. Plus, the car that Alonzo drives in this movie, Monte Carlo, looks just amazing. So, drop your plans and watch this masterpiece tonight. You won’t regret it.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray, Eva Mendes
Fun Facts: During the scene when Jake plays cards with the Latino gangsters, director Antoine Fuqua gave certain instructions to the actors playing the gangsters without telling Ethan Hawke. The reason for this was to add tension to the scene and further confuse Ethan.