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Training Day (2001)
Training Day is a 2001 crime drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by David Ayer, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The plot follows two LAPD narcotics detectives over a 24-hour period in the gang neighborhoods of South and East Los Angeles. The film was a box office success and earned mostly positive critical appraisals. Washington's performance, a departure from his usual roles, was particularly praised and earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 74th Academy Awards. His co-star Ethan Hawke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a rookie cop. This film was also the debut of R singer Grammy-winner Macy Gray as an actress. The film follows a single day in the life of an LAPD cop, Jake Hoyt (Hawke), who is scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris (Washington), a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer who could advance Jake's career. In Alonzo's car, the pair of officers observe teenage Mara Salvatrucha members dealing drugs in a park. Instead of arresting the buyers, Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to take a hit from the marijuana.
I think so, although this is a time where audiences may seek romantic comedies over disturbing, awakening dramas. I screened two movies today, this and the juvenile Max Keeble's Big Move. The theater was twice as full for Max than Training Day, which proves that people want uplifting comedies right now. If you're one of those people, Training Day is definitely not for you.
Unquestionably convincing, disturbingly realistic, and unflinchingly honest, Training Day details the events of one day in which a young, rookie narcotics cop named Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) must show his stuff to veteran detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) in order to land the job he wants.
Jake has a loving wife and a beautiful little baby, both safe and sound at home. By the time Jake returns to them that night, he will be a different person. He will see things he has never wanted to see, learn things he does not want to know, and look evil straight in the eye. Although the myth states when you dance with the devil, you don't change the devil, the devil changes you, this experience might actually make Jake a stronger individual, or it might morally change his standards forever.
Jake will never forget his training day, and this is a day I won't soon forget, either. The film explores a world uncompromisingly barbarous, a world I never want to see again. But it does exist in the vast majority of cities. Training Day reminds us of that, and sometimes the justice department is no better than the villainous thugs it patrols.
The film, brilliantly directed by Antoine Fuqua, is fueled with powerhouse performances. Denzel Washington displays a side of himself we have never seen before; I feel he has earned an Oscar nomination for his sincere, vicious portrayal of a man who was not strong enough to withstand his dance. Ethan Hawke invites the audience to stand inside his cringing shoes. We're as startled as Jake because we experience the day through his eyes.
It's a scary world out there. Training Day shows us the brooding terror that could exist just blocks away. It's altogether one of the year's most thought-provoking films.
On DVD, you'll find a number of extras, including a spare commentary from Fuqua (largely expanding on the plot of the film), a few extra scenes, and an alternate ending that closes just a bit more the story of Alonzo's superiors. But more than anything, the film stands on its own.
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