Training Day (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/04/2002

Four out of five stars
Running time: 122 mins

Trashy cop-thriller entertainment of the highest quality: well-made and superbly acted, with Washington in line for a possible Oscar nomination.

It’s hard to believe that Training Day director Antoine Fuqua is the same Antoine Fuqua responsible for the execrable The Replacement Killers and Entrapment (before he was replaced as director), because there is a talent on display here that was singularly absent from those films.

Training Day is terrifically acted and has both impressive photography (courtesy of cinematographer Mauro Fiore with strong use of authentic location-work) and a sharp script, all of which adds up to an extremely enjoyable, way-above-average ‘Saturday night’ flick.

Cleverly, the film all takes place in the space of one day. We follow rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), who has one day in which to impress Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), an seasoned LAPD vice cop in charge of a special narcotics squad.

However, there is a slight drawback: Harris’ methods are somewhat less than legal and the day soon becomes a battle of wills between Hawke (‘good’) and Washington (‘evil’), though to be fair, Washington’s character is a lot more complex than that succinct description allows.

A film like this needs its ‘devil’ figure to be as charismatic as possible and Washington delivers with a magnificent performance, by turns chilling, funny, realistic (as opposed to the over-the-top theatrics other actors might have succumbed to) and yet also retaining a definite humanity, all of which is revealed gradually.

Hawke is extremely well cast, too, conveying fear, anger and a sense of mounting disillusionment that will strike a familiar chord with anyone who has ever come into contact with work-place corruption. However, he does have a couple of Gratuitous Scowling Moments that may provoke unfortunate laughter.

The film is also peopled with great cameos from the likes of Scott Glenn (excellent) and rap artists such as Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Macy Gray (all excellent). The soundtrack is also excellent, as you might expect, and includes several tracks written especially for the film.

If there’s a flaw it’s only that the film relies too heavily on a spectacular coincidence towards the end, though ultimately that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment. It’s also refreshing that the film doesn’t do everything that you expect it to, though to say more would be to reveal too much.

To sum up, Training Day is a top-quality cop-flick that is the best ‘Saturday night thriller’ to come along in A Very Long Time. Whether it will also pick up an Oscar for Washington remains to be seen, but it’s an extremely enjoyable ride. Highly recommended.

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Training Day (18)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 21:30

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