Training Day (2001)
Reviewed on 2012 March 9
This is a favorite weekend afternoon staple of basic cable, despite the ninja-style editing they have to give it for dialogue and violence while still keeping some actual movie intact. It’s cold and gritty but good, good enough that I bought the DVD when I saw it in the bargain bin one day.
Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is an idealistic LAPD cop who wants to be a narcotics officer. He gets taken under the crooked wing of Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), an almost cartoonishly corrupt agent who has his own ideas about law enforcement and no real concept of morality whatsoever, despite his speeches about being wolves protecting sheep. As Hoyt goes through his training day, Harris is revealed to be more and more rotten. Hoyt may decide to spend the rest of his career writing parking tickets and be happy with it after what he’s seen. Harris thinks he might have seen too much to let that happen.
It’s kind of a good vs. evil story set in the streets if you strip it down to its basic plot. Denzel got a Best Actor Oscar® for his portrayal of Harris, who’s as smart as he is wicked, not to mention completely frightening because he justifies everything he does. Harris would have been a parody in anyone else’s hands. Jake’s character wasn’t really developed and that’s OK, I think he’s just supposed to be along for the ride and the audience is supposed to feel the same way.
Three chocolate morsels.