Training Day (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Simple basic premise: a young rookie narc is teamed with a veteran, corrupt cop. On their first day together, the veteran tests the young policeman in every imaginable way. The film portrays only that one day.

Training Day is a pretty good flick, but I think your attitude toward it will depend on what you like, plot-driven or character-driven movies. 


If you have to have a logical, sensible plot, you may just as well skip this, because it will drive you crazy. 

The entire set-up of the film relies on your ability to be convinced when Denzel Washington is telling Ethan Hawke that Ethan is THE man, and will be the future Prince of the City, the ultimate super-cop, Serpico plus Popeye Doyle. Yeah, right. You can believe this only if you can believe that the street-wise Denzel must be able to sense these things after years of experience, and can see things which we cannot. It's pretty obvious to a viewer that Hawke doesn't fit in at all, and even if he did, corrupt cops would never let a new guy see all the dirty dealings in his first day on the job. Therefore, all of Denzel's rap and flattery must, in fact, be part of a con. But you were not supposed to see that.

The entire resolution of the film hinges on one of those one in a zillion coincidences. Early in the day, the zealous, idealistic Hawke saves a young girl from being raped by two crackheads. She drops her wallet. Late in the film, Hawke is about to get killed when the wallet drops out of his pocket, and it turns out that the girl he saved is the beloved cousin of the guy about to do the killing! 


Eva Mendes' naked butt is seen when Hawke surprises her and Denzel. She is seen full-frontal when she climbs out of the bed, but she's in the background and is not in perfect focus.
Yeah. Tell me another one.


Having said that, let me go on to say that I enjoyed the film because I ignored all that and just let it work as a character-driven film that generates some tension in the moment. Denzel Washington is great in this. This character has been done before about a zillion times - the charismatic black guy who is half-preacher and half-thug. But it is amazing what can be done with the character when you assign the role to the most charismatic actor on the block. Denzel did a helluva job with this role. One reviewer wrote that after he saw this, he wished that Denzel had been cast as the new Shaft, and when I thought about it, I agreed. Samuel L Jackson is one of my favorite actors, and is one of the funniest guys on the planet, but Denzel showed in this film that he has a Shaft inside of him. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Commentary by director Antoine Fuqua

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  •  Never-before-seen footage

  • Alternate ending

  • Behind-the-scenes documentary

  • 2 Music videos: Nelly's "#1" and Pharoahe Monch's "Got You"

  • Widescreen anamorphic 2.35:1

Much to my surprise.

He's so confident on his turf, so sure he is the Prince of the City, that he tries to talk his way out of every situation, tries to con, cajole, bully, or charm everyone all the time. He's so arrogant and cocky that he makes Popeye Doyle look like St Francis of Assisi. Yet he gets men to believe every word of his con. You almost believe him when he's saying that Ethan Hawke has The Right Stuff.


Tuna's Thoughts

My take is a little different. Scoop chose to ignore what he saw as logic holes in the plot, and enjoyed the film. I also enjoyed the film, and saw less in the way of logic holes to ignore. I don't think it was ever a secret from the audience or from Hawke that Denzel would use or abuse him in whatever way would be to his benefit, and we learn very early that Denzel isn't exactly a pillar of honesty. Hawke is driven by his ambition to try and fit in, as he sees this as a steppingstone to a promotion. I agree completely that the thing that saves Hawke in the end is lower probability than a virgin birth. The director was after an accurate portrayal of the streets, and, I think, succeeded. He received some flack over the language in the film, but as he points out, that is the way people in that situation talk.

I agree with Scoops C+, but highly recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind strong language, violence, and nudity.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4 

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5 
  • With their dollars ... a moderate success. Made for $45 million, it grossed $76 million
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Excellent as a character-driven gritty street drama. Crossover appeal is limited by some of the most extreme language ever to appear in a Hollywood film.

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