Training Day: Robert Zuckerman
Owen Gleiberman
March 19, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Training Day (2001)

type
Movie
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama
Wide Release Date
10/05/01
runtime
116 minutes
performer
Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Tom Berenger, Scott Glenn, Eva Mendes
guest performer
Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Macy Gray
director
Antoine Fuqua
distributor
Warner Bros.
author
David Ayer
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R

We gave it a B-

Within the first half hour of Training Day, LAPD narcotics detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) steals PCP-laced pot from a perp, forces trainee Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) to smoke it at gunpoint, and lets two rapists go free — and we’re still thinking we like the guy.

In fact, through most of the movie, as Harris teaches Hoyt the tools of his shady trade, we’re not sure whether Harris is a tough-but-effective cop, á la ”The French Connection”’s Popeye Doyle, or a tough-and-psychopathic cop, á la ”Bad Lieutenant”’s bad lieutenant. Washington weaves both archetypes into a stellar, ambiguous, Oscar-nominated performance that drives the film, while Hawke (who also scored an Academy nod) coasts along as the sheepish counterpoint to Washington’s wolf.

There are enough plot twists to keep us guessing until the third act, when the slippery truth about Alonzo comes out and ”Training Day” degenerates into a rote action thriller (complete with illogical plot devices), betraying its promise and training its audience to expect the expected.

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