A rookie narcotics cop gets paired with a psychotic,
corrupt detective who tries to drag him down to his level.
Training Day (2001)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by David Ayer
Starring Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn,
Eva Mendes, Tom Berenger, Raymond J. Berry, Harris Yulin,
Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nick Chinlund, Macy Gray
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (Denzel Washington)
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Ethan Hawke)
Training Day is a brilliant, underappreciated crime drama that features the greatest performance Denzel Washington has ever given. And Ethan Hawke is no slouch here either. This film goes the extra mile to showcase the truly corrupt, vile police officers who make the rest of them look bad, with Alonzo Harris (Washington) representing the worst of the worst. We follow rookie narcotics officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke) as he is partnered with Alonzo, who shows him the ropes in his own way. How to lie, cheat, steal, and come out on top thanks to the badge.
Hoyt is a good man with a wife and newborn baby. He wants to be a detective, and he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to get there. As he goes through his training day with Alonzo, there's tension from the very beginning. Hoyt knows Alonzo is a crooked cop and a dangerous man, but Alonzo brilliantly traps Hoyt in an incriminating situation. This film gradually builds up the intensity and suspense until it explodes like a powder keg at the very end. Every character is morally gray and well-written, which makes you feel for even the lowest of the low.
I'd go so far as to say that Training Day is Antoine Fuqua's masterpiece. Denzel is absolutely terrifying from beginning to end, and Hawke does a great job acting as the audience's tether. The dialogue is clever and memorable ("It's not what you know. It's what you can prove."), and the ending is smart and satisfying. Makes you wonder where Hoyt goes from here, but that's for another story. If you haven't seen this, check it out. It's pure gold.