Training Day (2001)
USA / English
"The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed, is the cop who will cross it. "On his first day on the job as a narcotics officer, a rookie cop works with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears as.
Fantastic, Denzel Washington's finest hour
Before seeing this movie, my impression of Denzil Washington as an
actor wasn't especially high. Not to say that he isn't talented, just
that ever since Crimson Tide he appeared to be slotted neatly into
every stern hero in every serious political thriller to be trotted off
the studio assembly line for years. But then came Training Day and his
role as Alonzo Harris and all that changed. Shrugging off the overly
serious good guy image once and for all, Washington here is a
revelation; a barking, ranting maelstrom of police brutality who
believes that maintaining order on the crime ridden streets of LA means
being even more ruthless than the drug dealers he faces on a day to day
basis. His performance elevates the film from standard thriller fare
into an exemplary story that has quite rightly become one of my
favourite films of all time.
Set over the course of twenty four hours, the film whisks Ethan Hawke's
naive young police officer onto an introductory day of Narcotics work
under Alonzo's tutelage. As the hours go by, Hawke is subjected to more
and more violence as the heat and paranoia of suburban Los Angeles
combined with his loose cannon superior officer play a heavy toll on
his nerves. Consequently, the film is very much a two man story with
Hawke and Washington playing off against each other expertly as polar
opposites. One young, inexperienced and a firm believer in the rule
book, the other older, more cynical and twisted by all his years on the
streets into a bull-headed monster.
The story itself is fraught with tension. Alonzo forcing his young
protégé to smoke PCP at gunpoint is just the start and from there on
the pulse pounding never stops. The execution scene where Hawke
realises just how far gone his partner is for example is one of
nail-biting pressure and shortly after, his encounter with a trio of
Mexican gang members is jaw dropping, working as the exact moment you
realise how much hot water he has found himself in.
The end result is nothing less than a brilliant thriller. Hawke and
Washington make for a phenomenal double act and the pace only
occasionally lets up to allow the characters time to breathe and
establish the depth that makes you care for them more. Highly, highly
recommended so long as you're prepared to be absolutely terrified of
Denzel Washington for years to come.
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