October 2001
Training Day Is In Session

Reviewed by Shelby J. Jones

Training Day Is In Session

Written By:David Ayer
Directed By:Antoine Fuqua
Starring:Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke & Eva Mendes
Cool Appearances by:Snoop, Dr. Dre & Macy Gray

Denzel Washington. What does that name mean to you? To me it means a man that has defined the fine art of film & stage acting for more than a decade. It is also no secret amongst my friends that I am still peeved that he didn’t win an Oscar for his gut- wrenching performance in “Hurricane.” I was more upset that the Academy voters awarded the Best Actor prize to Kevin Spacey for his performance in “American Pie.” How could a simplistic, bored suburban dad compare to Denzel’s portrayal of a boxer, convict, revolutionary, teacher, old man, young man and maniac All in the same damn movie? Come on Academy Members – be fair, wise up and start watching the actors’ performances as opposed to current climates of what might be cool to do. Granted, after witnessing the grand magnitude of Al Pacino’s fine work over the years, it was equally as silly for him to win for his performance in “Scent of A Woman” rather than winning for his work in “Godfather,” “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon.”

But there’s a chance for redemption with “Training Day” starring Denzel and Ethan Hawke. L.A.P.D Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington), a 13-year narcotics veteran who has been buried in the streets of LA gang life so long that it has altered his thinking and understanding of the term, “to protect and serve.” Our story begins when green-cop Hawke is offered an opportunity to join Alonzo’s NARC Unit. Hawke, of course, is more interested in making detective than gettin’ it on in the streets with the eses, gangas and thug-life brovas. Much to Hawke’s surprise, Denzel’s Alonzo is not only interested in gettin’ it on with street life players, to a large extent, Alonzo is actively the de facto president of who does what, who moves weight and who is more likely to get four hots and a cot.

Antoine Fuqua’s (Replacement Killers) direction in this film sometimes jumps a little quick but he does a fine job in taking the audience downtown to feel this new Denzel - Lonzo to those on Blood turf. Mixing incredible cinematography, and a bone chilling score, Fuqua proves that he has the skill to work with the finest in the business.

This film had five of my favorite ingredients, but I must admit to one bias. “Training Day” deals with street justice, has one outstanding actor, a kick ass score, sinister close-ups and -- Eva Mendes (Exit Wounds). Her appearance in only a few scenes was not enough for my taste buds. She is unmistakably sexy. Sexy without knowing it, which makes her truly sexy in and of itself. The combination of the aforementioned facets make this film a definite must see, especially if you enjoy watching a film that takes you on a ride through south central packing glock 19’s, desert eagles and talking shit about street power. Of course the current climate of problems in the U.S. makes it tough for me to admit my appreciation for this type of film, but hey, it’s entertainment, nothing more, nothing less.

I thought about Denzel’s past performances and was worried when I first heard about this film. I thought Denzel would play the good guy that saves the day again or the good guy who is having problems and you feel bad for him. And then, whip, bam, booyah, Denzel got raw, came on the screen smoking like a hard core screen version of boxed-up Ice Cube lyrics. Not since his menacing performance in “A Soldier’s Story,” where he openly challenged authority had I seen such intense acting from Denzel. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but this Denzel will piss you off, make you mad, he might even make you feel bad for him, but most importantly, he will make you remember Lonzo. No doubt. Feed on that October 5th in a theater near you.


(Oct: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive