Main cast: Denzel Washington (Det Sgt Alonzo Harris), Ethan Hawke (Jake Hoyt), Eva Mendes (Sara), Scott Glenn (Roger), Cliff Curtis (Smiley), Raymond Cruz (Sniper), Noel Gugliemi (Moreno), Dr Dre (Paul), Peter Greene (Jeff), Nick Chinlund (Tim), Jaime P Gomez (Mark), Snoop Dogg (Blue), and Macy Gray (Sandman’s wife)
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Training Day takes place in just one day, but gosh, it drains me so much that it feels like a week at least. This movie is solid and good, at least until the last third when the scriptwriter and director got brainsucked by the Teletubbies and mutate this show into a really bad John-Woo-wannabe. The movie is about Jake Hoyt, a rookie at his first day’s training in the LAPD Narcotics Department, spiraling into the training day from hell when his trainer Alonzo turns out to be one whacked, brilliant, but whacked cop. What to do, what to do?
I have no idea why critics are raving about Mr Washington’s acting. I find it remarkable only in that he is finally breaking his typecast of Noble Black Hero roles for the role of Alonzo. Alas, Alonzo starts out a charismatic nutcase who becomes a complete nutcase late into the show. Mr Washington acts up a storm, but it’s embarrassing to follow his character’s Alzheimer’s-like degeneration from brilliant evil into mad, bad, cackling Tasmanian Devil evil. Then again, everyone wants to see Mr Washington break the Oscar glass ceiling, so I guess anything by him is fair game for “See? Academy buffoons still don’t get it!” chessgames.
Ethan Hawke plays an adult, gee, but the familiar innocent-corrupted act, vintage Mr Hawke shtick, is here. He makes a great balance to Mr Washington’s zaniness, and like all good cop movies, there’s plenty of slashy tension to make those into that grin knowingly like Cheshire cats.
Training Day is skillfully paced and always brilliantly acted for the first two-thirds. The supporting cast is great too, although I’m still not sure about Macy Gray’s dead skunk hairstyle and Medusa fake nails. Then the final third comes in and the whole delicious moral ambiguity of this movie gets sucked up into outer space along with all semblance of good noir and drama. Hoyt starts acting like John Wayne on Prozac while Alonzo starts cackling like a senile octogenarian. The movie ends with me gaping at the credits. Who replaced that good thriller/drama with this, this… The Replacement Killers rubbish?