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Training Day

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Training Day

Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Snoop Doggy Dogg, Cliff Curtis, Emilio Rivera, Harris Yulin, Tom Berenger, Charlotte Ayanna, Scott Glenn, Eva Mendes

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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

It's obvious why perennial good-guy Denzel Washington was intrigued by the malevolent role of veteran L.A.P.D. Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, who heads an elite, undercover narcotics squad. He's a dedicated rogue cop who's glib that "you gotta have a little dirt on you for anyone to trust you." His "street justice" ethics and morality are outside the norm but he has his own ambiguous integrity. So when Jake Hoyt, an idealistic rookie, played by Ethan Hawke, wants to join his unit, Harris gives him 24 hours to prove himself saying, "You've got today and today only to show me what you're made of....You've got to decide if you're a sheep or a wolf." Their day begins with drugs and alcohol, part of "getting to know the streets," and includes extortion, execution, and a $4 million seizure, which quickly decreases to $3 million as the corrupt cops take their cut. "It's ugly but it's necessary," rationalizes Harris. "Play the game, grow wise and then you can change things." Both Washington and Hawke deliver, supported by Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Snoop Dogg, Macy Gray and Dr. Dre. But David Ayer's implausible, cliché-filled screenplay veers off in several directions with too many far-fetched coincidences. Certainly a subplot involving the Russian Mafia is irrelevant and, right now, after the World Trade Center, the timing seems inappropriate for gratuitous police corruption and brutality. Director Antoine Fuqua brings a cinematic restlessness, street smarts and a touch of slick senationalism to this police thriller which all-too-soon becomes pedestrian, even sadistic, with an unsatisfying conclusion. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Training Day" is a gritty, foul-mouthed 6, questioning whether law enforcement comes at the expense of justice and public safety.

Copyright © 2001 Susan Granger

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