Training Day is a 2001 action-crime Neo-Noir thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Ayer. It stars Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role as well as Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Snoop Dogg and Eva Mendes. It is often cited as one of the most popular movies on the topic of police corruption.
Many critics and film viewers have noted that since both this film and the 2005 remake Assault on Precinct 13 are produced by Jeffrey Silver and star Hawke that they're likely set in the same universe and Hawke is playing the same character.
The film follows a day in the life of a Los Angeles Police Department officer, Jake Hoyt, scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris, a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer. In Alonzo's car, the officer sees teenage Mara Salvatrucha gang members dealing drugs in a park. Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to take a hit from the marijuana. Jake refuses, but Alonzo puts a gun to his head and says Jake's failure to use drugs could get him killed by a street dealer.
Jake relents and smokes the marijuana. Alonzo then tells him the marijuana was laced with PCP. While driving, Jake notices a female high school student named Letty being sexually assaulted. Jake tackles and subdues the attackers, while Alonzo watches. Alonzo tells Letty to leave. Jake objects, attempting to take Letty's statement for a formal report, but Alonzo says that street justice has been served—the two men lost their money and crack, and Letty's cousins may take revenge. Jake finds Letty's wallet on the ground and takes it.
Alonzo and Jake later apprehend a wheelchair-bound drug dealer named Blue and find crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. In exchange for his freedom, Blue reveals his associate: Kevin "Sandman" Miller, imprisoned at the time. Alonzo takes Jake to Sandman's home in Watts where he uses a fake search warrant to steal drug money from the premises. Sandman's wife, however, notices and calls out to the nearby Crips gang members who open fire. Barely managing to escape, an irate Jake again objects to Alonzo's actions, to no avail. The duo then visit Alonzo's Salvadoran mistress Sara and their young son at Baldwin Village. Afterward, Alonzo meets with a group of high-ranking police officials dubbed the "Three Wise Men". They tell Alonzo they know he owes money to the Russian Mafia and suggest that he leave town. But Alonzo insists he can control the situation and gets permission to "cash in on an account". Alonzo later tells Jake that he had to give Sandman's money to the Three Wise Men to obtain an arrest warrant.
Alonzo takes Jake and three other narcotic officers to the home of Roger, a drug dealer and former police officer the duo visited earlier. Using the warrant, they seize several million dollars from underneath the floor of Roger's kitchen, but Jake refuses to take his share of the cash. Alonzo then kills Roger and arranges the scene to appear like a justified shooting. Jake refuses to lie and, after being threatened, seizes Alonzo's shotgun. A Mexican standoff ensues. Alonzo calms his associates and claims that the LAPD will run a blood test on Jake, the result of which he can falsify in exchange for Jake's cooperation. Jake reluctantly agrees.
Alonzo drives Jake to the home of a Sureño named "Smiley", allegedly to run an errand. He furtively abandons Jake as Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members. A tense conversation ensues in which Smiley reveals Alonzo's situation: By midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russian mob for mistakenly killing a high ranking boss in a fight in Las Vegas or be killed himself. Jake realizes too late that Alonzo has paid Smiley to kill him and is subdued and dragged to the shower. There, the gang finds the wallet dropped by Letty, who is Smiley's cousin. Smiley calls Letty, who confirms that a young, white police officer risked his life to defend her. In gratitude for protecting his cousin, Smiley lets Jake go.
Jake returns to Sara's apartment looking for Alonzo. He attempts to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight ensues. Jake eventually subdues him, after which the local Bloods gang members and residents begin congregating to watch. Alonzo tries to get the crowd on his side by offering a reward to whoever kills Jake, but they have grown tired of Alonzo's arrogance and allow Jake to walk away with the money. In an attempt to escape via Los Angeles International Airport, Alonzo gets killed by the Russian Mafia, his death being broadcast over the news in a hauntingly similar way that Alonzo told Jake earlier in the film.
Cast of CharactersEdit
- Denzel Washington as Detective Alonzo Harris
- Ethan Hawke as Officer Jake Hoyt
- Scott Glenn as Roger
- Tom Berenger as Stan Gursky
- Harris Yulin as Detective Doug Rosselli
- Raymond J. Barry as Captain Lou Jacobs
- Cliff Curtis as "Smiley"
- Dr. Dre as Detective Paul
- Snoop Dogg as Blue (A.K.A. "Sammy")
- Macy Gray as "Sandman"'s wife
- Charlotte Ayanna as Lisa Hoyt
- Eva Mendes as Sara
- Nick Chinlund as Detective Tim
- Jaime P. Gomez as Detective Mark
- Raymond Cruz as "Sniper"
- Noel Gugliemi as "Moreno"
- Samantha Becker as Letty
- Kyjel N. Jolly as Alonzo's son
- Robert Leon as Veterano
- Seidy Lopez as Dreamer
- Rudy Perez as "PeeWee"
- Cle "Shaheed" Sloan as "Bone"
- Abel Soto as "Neto"
- Denzel Whitaker as Dimitri
- Peter Greene as Jeff (uncredited)
- Terry Crews as Damu Gang Member (uncredited)
- The film received mostly positive reviews upon release, and Denzel Washington's portrayal of Alonzo Harris gathered glowing praise from critics.
- The review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 72% of critics gave positive reviews based on 152 reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film three-out-of-four stars, praising both the lead and supporting actors and the film's gritty, kinetic energy. However, Ebert was bothered by several plot holes and wrote that "[a] lot of people are going to be leaving the theater as I did, wondering about the logic and plausibility of the last 15 minutes."
- The film was released in theaters on October 5, 2001, and was a box office hit, landing at #1. At its second week of release, the film's gross revenue was $13,386,457, landing again in the #1 position. The film stayed in the top-ten box office until the seventh week of release, landing at #12. With an estimated budget of $45 million, Training Day ultimately grossed $76,631,907 domestically and $104,876,233 worldwide.
- Fuqua wanted Washington's character to be seductive and part of a machine, and not just a random rogue cop. In Washington's own words: "I think in some ways he’s done his job too well. He’s learned how to manipulate, how to push the line further and further, and, in the process, he’s become more hard-core than some of the guys he’s chasing."
- As detailed on the DVD's commentary, Fuqua also saw Hawke's character as generally honorable but so driven by ambition that he was willing to compromise his principles, particularly when following the charming and persuasive example of Washington's character. Also in the DVD commentary, Fuqua says that he fought with studio executives who wanted to cut the Three Wise Men scene, thinking it slowed the film. Fuqua insisted that the Wise Men scene was pivotal in establishing that at least some of Alonzo's illegal actions were sanctioned by his superiors who regarded unethical behavior as a necessary evil.
- Antoine Fuqua wanted the film to look as authentic as possible, and he shot on location in some of the most infamous neighborhoods of Los Angeles. He even obtained permission to shoot in the Imperial Courts housing project, the first time L.A. street gangs had allowed cameras to be brought into that neighborhood. The crew also filmed in Hoover Block and Baldwin Village.
- Parts of the film were shot on a dead end street called Palmwood Drive, where the Black P. Stones Blood gang members were seen on the rooftops. Cle Shaheed Sloan, the gang technical advisor of Training Day, managed to get on screen real-life gang members from Rollin' 60 Crips, PJ Watts Crips, and B. P. Stones (a Bloods set).
- According to Fuqua's commentary on the DVD release of the film, the actors and crew ended up receiving a warm welcome from local residents. When Fuqua was unable to shoot a scene directly on location, he had his crew recreate the locations on sets.
- There were also two police officers on hand as technical advisors, Michael Patterson and Paul Lozada (the latter from the San Francisco Police Department). Washington, Hawke and other cast members also met with undercover police officers, local drug dealers, and gang members to help them understand their roles better.
- A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on September 11, 2001, by Priority Records. It peaked at 35 on the Billboard 200 and 19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spawned two hit singles, Nelly's "#1" and Dr. Dre and DJ Quik's "Put It on Me".
- Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001 (notably beating out Russell Crowe's performance as John Nash for A Beautiful Mind), as well as the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain in 2002 for his performance in Training Day. Ethan Hawke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2001 for the film.
- Denzel's character Alonzo Harris later made #50 on the antagonist section for the 2003 TV special "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains".