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Training Day

The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed is the cop who will cross it 

Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Training Day is a cop thriller with a difference. For one thing, both its leading actors were nominated for Academy Awards, with Denzel Washington actually winning Best Actor. And, this being the actor who starred in (among others) Malcolm X, The Hurricane and Glory, that must be one hell of an achievement.

Ostensibly, Training Day is little more than a bog-standard rites of passage tale, as rookie vice cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is tested, cajoled and indeed bullied by his superior officer, Alonzo Harris (Washington) over the course of the titular "Day". It seems that Harris is merely testing his young protégé's stamina and tolerance for the daily brutality and sleaze that he will see on the streets, but as Harris' actions become more and more hostile, his intentions become less and less clear.

Discovering exactly what Harris is up to is one of the principle joys of this film - predictability is never one of its problems. And Denzel does indeed turn in a fantastic performance as the kinetic, dangerously on the edge Harris. Ethan Hawke, gloomy Gen-X star of Reality Bites and Hamlet, is surprisingly effective as the gloomy, uncomprehending young wannabe, whose desperate ambition to reach the dizzy heights of detective forces him to accept and respond to Harris' verbal and physical baiting. The chemistry between the two is electric, there is a real sense of danger in their confrontations, and this makes for fascinating cinema.

Antoine Fuqua, director of the substandard Replacement Killers, manages to bring just the right degree of hard-edged realism to the film; indeed Los Angeles itself seems almost as powerful as presence as the actors. There is a real sense of pending violence imbued into the film, in the characters, in the streets, in the general atmosphere. This is certainly an intense movie experience - it goes for the throat and keeps its grip until the shocking closing scenes.

Brutal, compelling, and extremely surprising, Training Day is a worthy addition to the police film genre, and, more importantly, a finely crafted, intelligent thriller. Just don't expect Lethal Weapon...

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)