Training Day is a very realistic and brutally honest film that has a great cast, headed by Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Antoine Fuqua directed this brutal and unflinching film with great panache and its only his third film, the other two being straight-to-video Bait and The Replacement Killers (starring Chow Yun Fat).
Jake Hoyt (Hawke) is an eager and bright-eyed young cop who is given the opportunity to be partnered with experienced narcotics cop Alonzo Harris (Washington in a mesmerising performance). Harris has a knack of getting his partners promoted fast and is a legend of sorts in the force, hence Hoyt is in awe of him and very nervous at first. Harris takes him from his sheltered live with his wife and baby into the seething, seedy and corrupt world of the street, which Harris works in everyday. Na´ve to the streets Hoyt is pulled deeper and deeper into Harris's world and before he realises the shocking truth, it's too late for him to go back. Harris is very convincing and Hoyt loses his sense of right and wrong. Harris justifies his actions by saying "If you want to catch a wolf, you have to become a wolf".
The film focuses on the relationship between the two men and how it changes over the day as well as posing the question; does it really take a cop being a criminal to catch criminals? Ethan Hawke's character questions everything he believes in - harking back to the myth if you dance with the Devil, you don't change him, he changes you. The real outstanding performance is Denzel Washington as the demonic Alonzo Harris. Extremely charismatic and yet he still manages to be sincere. You get the sense that he was a good cop at one point but could not withstand his morals against the streets. "Let the animals wipe themselves out, God willing" he remarks at one point. This character is nothing like the 'good' moralistic characters he has played in the past, in films such as Malcolm X, The Hurricane, Crimson Tide and Cry Freedom. Denzel Washington really seems to have fun playing the bad guy.
There are a lot of cameos and small roles for some great actors and not so great rappers/actors. These include Tom Berenger and Scott Glenn, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr Dre and also even an appearance by Macy Gray.
Antoine Fuqua obviously knows the streets himself to have undertaken this movie with such convictions. He manages to encompass events, which took place off screen and sometimes weeks prior to the Training Day and ties everything in neatly. The ending is a little weak in comparison to the onslaught of the majority of the film but this is really the only complaint. Its honest, brutal and very unflinching, but in the end a rewarding film with great performances.
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