In a year where movies continue to fail to risk, in a year where there are barely any standout performances, and in a time where studios are uncertain about putting violence on the screen, there is Training Day.
Ethan Hawke is the naive young cop who ventures into inner city Los Angeles, teaming up with veteran undercover cop Denzel Washington, who doesn't play much at all by the books. Hawke is uncertain about many of Washington's methods, but continues to abide by them... that is, for a while. Then, Hawke begins to realize that this man who has been sworn to protect the innocent and take down the bad guys... may be a bad guy himself.
Training Day marks the real end of the summer season and the beginning of the rest of 2001... hopefully. Where the rest of this dreadful year has been filled with waist-high crap, Training Day hits a note not heard in a long while. It's not perfect, but it is far from badness, and might call itself home to an Oscar nomination should Denzel Washington please the important critics enough.
Training Day is gritty, dark, and almost surreal, reminding me much of last year's Traffic, and is not afraid to go into the murky underworld of police corruption. The two hour movies manages to take a single day and turn it into a great story of morality, and of darkness. Again, it's not perfect - sometimes the movie is so engrossed with showing off Washington's street justice that is forgets about a specific storyline - but no one is going to see this movie for its story.
Ethan Hawke is excellent, but Denzel Washington burns up the screen as a street smart villain, who is so smooth and evil that it is fun to hate him. The movie makes a good transition from portraying him as a knowledgeable police officer to a downright dirty killer, and Washington helps out. He is due for yet another Oscar nomination.
Some may find the ending a little inconclusive, or un-climatic, or they might think that Training Day doesn't have much of a point, or they might just not like Denzel as a bad guy, but... screw them.
Training Day get props just for being ambitious, not to mention great acting, good direction, and a riveting story.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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