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Training Day (2001)

Denzel Washington making police traffic duty sound pretty darn enjoyable

Directed by:

Antoine Fuqua

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 118 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

A question mark has always hung over whether Denzel Washington is at his more convincing as a good or a bad guy. The genius of “Training Day” is that you're never quite sure which side he's on – not, at least, until it's too late

Washington produces an Oscar-scooping performance as super-streetwise narcotics detective Alonzo Harris, a man who's much more intimidating than his daft first name suggests. He's been assigned to show the ropes to LAPD rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), a straight-down-the-middle family man who sees the days' work experience as an ideal opportunity to make a career for himself. Alonzo, as it turns out, has much bigger plans.

Director Antoine Fuqua takes us to the very front line of gangland LA in this tense thriller, cleverly playing with the uneasy relationship between mentor Harris and the increasingly untrusting trainee Hoyt. We learn from an early stage that the ultra-cool Harris is not a man to be messed with – particularly when he seems more than happy to let his gun do the talking – but are kept guessing as to whether he just breaks rules to get things done or is an out-and-out bent cop

Unfortunately the film's climax is slightly ruined by a string of coincidences and implausibilities that start to give the proceedings a slightly contrived feel, and the gritty realism so carefully constructed over the course of the first 90 minutes or so is lost. But the cracking performances of both Washington and Hawke, along with a powerful script, real urban setting and fine direction make “Training Day” one of the best cop dramas to have come out of Hollywood in a long long time.

It's Got: Rap icons Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg – now there are a couple of guys who know how to swear – in minor but memorable roles.

It Needs: A darker and more believable ending to live up to the rest of the movie.

DVD Extras Behind-the scenes "Making Of" documentary, feature length audio commentary from director Fuqua, additional scenes, alternative ending (well worth taking a look at), trailer, and two music video Nelly’s "No.1" and Pharoahe Monch’s "Got You". DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Cop Land, Narc, The French Connection, Unlawful Entry

Summary

A tough, no-holds-barred outing into the LAPD underworld, full of genuine tension and some terrific acting.

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