Training Day is the story of young, white rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawk, “Snow Falling on Cedars”) who has one day to prove if he's cut out to be a narcotics officer on the rough Los Angeles streets. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington, “Remember the Titans”) is his trainer, who's been in the business of busting drug dealers and arresting gangsters for so long that his questionable methods of street justice blur the line between being a good cop and a bad cop. By the end of the day, Jake Hoyt learns to play Alonzo's game and risks his life in the process.
On average, any police unit can “expect to have 10 officers charged per year with abuse of police authority, five arrested for a felony, seven for a misdemeanor, three for theft and four for domestic violence," according to a 1998 report in the L.A. Times.
“Training Day” is directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers), who is from a rough area of Pittsburgh, and the movie's writer David Ayer grew up in Southcentral L.A. Together they address the ethical and moral issues surrounding effective law enforcement in an immoral criminal environment: how far law-enforcers have to go to protect and serve, becoming a criminal to catch a criminal, and police who need policing.
Erin Paul: “Training Day,” is somewhat reminiscent of “True Colors,” illustrating the relationships between police officers and criminals, only more sophisticated. The movie transcends racial borders, addresses a pressing issue and sticks to it. It illustrates that not all cops are bad, and that cops can do their jobs effectively without having to compromise their morals in the process.
Adam Mackie: Some of the first scenes they show of the hood make it seem like it was going to be a stereotypical gangster movie, but as the story line progresses it's different. The camera is used in such a way at various points in the movie that are documentary-style. It seems very realistic. I liked the intermittent shots of the L.A. skyline and the sun. These abstract shots serve to foreshadow what's to come for Ethan Hawke.
EP: People who actually live in the L.A. neighborhoods where this movie was filmed are used in the movie instead of actors. I think that helped make it more convincing. Also, “Training Day's” editor, Conrad Buff, won an Oscar for editing “Titanic,” and the director of photography is Mauro Fiore, whose work can bee seen in “Driven,” “Amistad,” and “Schindler's List.” So, aside from the unmistakable quality acting, there's a crew with clout that contributed to this project. Nothing was too much or too little. Every shot and nearly every angle served a purpose, and that hasn't been the case in many recent movies.
AM: I thought the cameo appearances of Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray and Dr. Dre initially made me think the movie was going to be cheesy, but the actors were effective in their purpose to make the movie more realistic. Macy Gray played a really good crack mamma.
EP: I agree. It took real talent for Snoop Dogg to vomit on cue in the beginning of the movie. On the other hand, Macy Gray is over six feet tall; I think she could've taken Ethan Hawke when he had her held up in her house.
AM: I'm not a violent person, so in some instances, it was a little intense. It was really graphic, probably not something you'd want to take your 10-year-old kid to see. Denzel Washington in a bad guy role is an interesting twist. The scene where he casually beats the crap out of Ethan Hawke is pretty hard core.
EP: Unlike most contemporary shoot'em-up movies, I didn't think the violence was gratuitous at all. Even though I had nightmares after seeing it, I think I was more disturbed by the realistic quality of the movie, rather than the carnage.
AM: There were some holes in the plot. The character sketch of the three white guys was underdeveloped, and it's hard to get a clear picture of who Alonzo used to be. I think flashbacks would've been effective to reinforce how Denzel became a bad guy. Overall, I really liked seeing Denzel out of his element. He's been typecast as a good, wholesome character, but this defied that. He's a good actor, but this role demonstrates that he can really play a different role.