When I was told that I had to write a film review, I felt a bit unnerved. I usually shy away from writing reviews because it becomes quite difficult for me to pick a movie – yes, the only qualms I have about writing reviews are that I can’t pick a movie. Whenever I start watching the movie I choose to review I get sidetracked and change my mind half way through. But then I remembered ‘Training Day’, a true piece of art.
I have made a habit of watching Training Day every year since 2009. The action/drama/crime movie came out in 2001, it was directed by Antoine Faqua and stars Ethan Hawke as a newbie detective (Jake Hoyt) being mentored by the meanest narcotics cop (Alonzo Harris), played by Denzel Washington.
The movie starts off with the Jake leaving his home after having breakfast with his family. It’s Jake’s first day as a detective and he meets his mentor, the seasoned Detective Alonzo Harris who soon shakes his principles to the core. To Alonzo, it’s all about being the meanest, hardest and toughest man on the beat and dolling out uncompromising ‘street justice’. However, Jake the rookie believes that any criminals they come across should be arrested and given a right to the due process. These values will get you killed on the streets, according to Alonzo.
At various points in the movie Jake questions Alonzo’s philosophy and methods, yet he realizes that its Alonzo’s wit and display of unwavering strength that saves his neck every time. This lulls him into trusting Alonzo, although not completely. There are a number of scenes full of tension, like when Alonzo drives down a street occupied by gang members who would not hesitate for a moment when facing off against any cop, but the scene shows that Alonzo is not just any cop. He steps out of his customized car, wearing jewelry and is received by the gang’s leaders with respect and reverence. They fear him and what he is capable of.
Meanwhile, Jake’s reservations don’t completely vanish and after they leave the street he again has an issue with Alonzo’s method and decides to quit. Jake’s unease can be seen increasing with each passing scene. But Alonzo convinces him to stay. It is at this point that the viewer sees Alonzo’s character reveal himself to be a manipulative and arrogant dirty cop who believes that he is above the law and can easily tweak the system.
The movie is full of excellent action sequences and tense stand offs. One can do nothing but get embroiled in the plot and feel betrayed when Alonzo reveals his true nature. The directing is excellent as each sequence matches the tone of the actors and the intensity of the settings surges as the movie rolls towards the climax.
Denzel Washington’s acting could not be appreciated enough, in fact the character seems like a projection of his own persona, albeit a haughtier version of himself. Ethan Hawke succeeded in playing the polar opposite of Denzel’s character, he gave an outstanding performance of a down to earth, by the book law enforcer. The way he acted in tense situations like an everyman balances out Alonzo’s imposing demeanor, yet Hoyt was no pushover because whenever the time came to do the right thing he did not hesitate before taking action even if it meant getting beat up mercilessly.
Overall this is an exceptional film, and if you are a fan of Denzel Washington’s work you will definitely enjoy it, if you aren’t a fan you will certainly become one after watching it.