Training Day

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/10/08

Ethan Hawke is a rookie in for one long Training Day. And I mean long! There must be 36 hours in this day! I know Ethan packed his .357, but what about a toothbrush and some jammies?

Training Day confronts lawlessness with ethically sketchy justice and dirty cops with clean ones – or at least ones who floss daily.


This movie asks some tough questions: Does law-abiding law enforcement come at the expense of justice and public safety? Can any police officer go 24 hours without a doughnut? What does Uma Thurman think Ethan has that I don’t have?

“King Kong ain’t got shit on me,” yells Denzel Washington, although in the all-ages trailer it’s “King Kong ain’t got nothin‘ on me.” In other words, King Kong’s got neither shit nor nothin’ on Denzel, depending on the audience, which is evidently a source of great relief for him. Although he did wring the necks of a few street hoods, at no point did Denzel swat biplanes from atop the Empire State Building, so this king of the jungle is more a Rodney King of the jungle, if the truth be known.

It’s always fun to see Denzel turn it on thick. And here’s another note-perfect performance of thick, thick, thick.

Master thespian Scott Glenn makes an appearance as one of LA’s harmless old and peaceful white guys who’s also an evil drug lord. The real narcotics action’s not on the street, you see, but in the dimly lit parlors of old white guys in recliners – guys who pull the strings of the street like so many tabs on Bud cans.

Denzel and Ethan stop by Scott’s too-dark house to share some cocktails – unfortunately, with blinds closed and incandescent lights evidently a tool of the devil, our heroes almost need night-vision goggles to find the casket of cash stored under the floorboards in the kitchen where it has spent a lot of time collecting all the wrong kinds of interest.

It turns out Denzel is one bad-ass cop dude. We should have known this because he dresses in black leather and wears so much jewelry, the LAPD must have an Olympic Medallist division.

You protect the sheep and catch the wolf, says Denzel, by being a wolf, and one predator who can take out a wolf is a shark. That’s why you don’t find a wildlife refuge next door to Creative Artists Agency – unless Mike DeLuca stops by and brings his wild life with him.

Training Day is stylishly directed by Antoine Fuqua who is one of the few fine directors with a hair salon name. Think about it, you don’t get your hair styled by Kevin Smith or George Lucas, now do you? You get it styled by Antoine Fuqua!


Evidently, the two requisites for cameos in this flick are a head shot and a Grammy. Macy Gray plays one convincing crack-head with teeth aligned to match the border of Uzbekistan. Dr. Dre’s in da house, and Snoop Dogg’s a wheelchair-bound candyman who’s slanging and getting nailed by the Bull before he can cap Ethan with his nine and I don’t know what the heck I’m saying. It may not be a rap sheet, but it’s definitely rap. Sheeeet!

This movie features some nasty looking extras! I don’t know whether or not these are authentic gang-bangers but I wouldn’t want to be the sorry production assistant who scoops the last gob of salsa from the catering table.

“Where did you get that elegant tattoo design?” Ethan asked one gangsta. “It’s adapted from a crisp, delicate tablecloth motif in Martha Stewart Living,” he replied. “Next I plan to arrange freshly cut greens and customize a duvet, dawg, a’ight?”

There are lots of improbabilities in Training Day – like how in one 24-hour period Denzel can visit his babe for nookie twice but not eat even once. But priorities aside, Training Day gives up the goods, homes.

It’ll bust your grill.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Warner Bros.


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