A rookie undercover cop is taken for a wild ride as his superior blurs the lines between officer and criminal in Training Day.
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is starting his first day on the job as an undercover narcotics officer in Los Angeles, riding along with Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Jake quickly notices Alonzo’s methods are not at all what he expects of such a decorated police officer. After Alonzo makes Jake smoke marijuana laced with PCP at gunpoint, Alonzo’s nature is called entirely into question. As the day progresses, things get even less black and white as Alonzo takes Jake deep into the shadier parts of the job and leaves Jake scrambling to find a way out of the situation, even if it means losing the promotion to detective.
I love Training Day, it’s a movie that keeps me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it. Denzel playing a bad guy, and not just a bad guy, but a bad guy that doesn’t seem to know how bad he is and is also a cop…Wow. Perfect casting even though it’s about as far away from Denzel’s usual roles as it gets, he nails it (and won an Oscar for it). Training Day starts off with the viewer questioning the morality of the situations that Alonzo presents to Jake and even though things seem “off”, it’s easy to ride the fence on what is the best call. Jake seems to go along with this too. When things begin to take a darker turn we question what Alonzo is really playing at. Finding out just how far Alonzo is willing to go is haunting and mesmerizing to watch.
Personally, I find Training Day a hard film to categorize. It’s part action, part thriller, part cop drama but it also hits on some deeper levels. Alonzo is simply one of the best film villains to come along, in my opinion. He is truly capable of anything to get what he wants and he has the power of the police force to help him. He is a man that we likely have seen glimpses of in our real lives and though you almost want to root for Denzel, you can’t root for him because Alonzo is just so far corrupted.
Acting aside, Training Day is well-crafted and Antoine Fuqua directs the film with so much tension you can practically see it on screen. What brings the film down a bit is the somewhat complicated final act. Though it ties the layers of the story, there are a lot of layers to bring together and some things are resolved a bit too conveniently. It doesn’t hurt Training Day too much overall, but some of the details may be lost in the shuffle during the first viewing.
I give it 4 badass Denzels out of 5.