Training Day is an example of the struggle between good and evil. Except here evil often appears to be good, as it is represented by the slick-talking Alonzo, who is usually very convincing when justifying his actions and decisions.

-Review by Simon Remark


This page was created on October 16, 2001
This page was last updated on May 17, 2005

Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by David Ayer

Denzel Washington .... Alonzo Harris
Ethan Hawke .... Jake Hoyt
Scott Glenn .... Roger
Tom Berenger .... Stan
Cliff Curtis .... Smiley
Snoop Doggy Dogg .... Sammy
Macy Gray .... Sandman's Wife
Eva Mendes .... Sara Hoyt
Charlotte Ayanna .... Lisa Hoyt
Harris Yulin .... Doug Rosselli
Raymond J. Barry .... Lou Jacobs
Emilio Rivera .... Veterano

Produced by David Ayer (co-producer), Bruce Berman (executive producer), Davis Guggenheim (executive producer), Robert F. Newmyer (producer), Susan E. Novick (associate producer), Jeffrey Silver (producer), Scott Strauss (co-producer), David Wisnievitz (co-producer)
Original music by Snoop Doggy Dogg (song), Dr. Dre (song), Eminem (song) and Mark Mancina
Cinematography by Mauro Fiore
Film Editing by Conrad Buff

MPAA: Rated R for brutal violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief nudity.
Runtime: USA:120

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Training Day (Clean Version)
Various Artists - Soundtrack - 2001

1. Keep Your Eyes Open (Film Dialogue) - Training Day: The Soundtrack - Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture (Edited) 2. W.O.L.V.E.S. - Krumbsnatcha 3. Bounce, Rock, Golden State - Golden State 4. Put It On Me - Dr. Dre & DJ Quik 5. #1 - Nelly 6. Got You - Pharoahe Monch 7. Watch The Police - C-Murder/Trick Daddy 8. Dirty Ryders - The Lox 9. Crooked Cop - Napalm 10. American Dream - P. Diddy And The Bad Boy Family 11. Greed - Cypress Hill 12. Guns N'Roses - The Clipse 13. Tha Squeeze - Gang Starr 14. Let Us Go - King Jacob & Professor 15. Training Day (In My Hood) - Roscoe 16. Protect Your Head) - Soldier B 17. Wolf Or Sheep (Film Score) - Training Day: The Soundtrack - Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture (Edited)

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

Every day, there is a war being waged on America?s inner city streets ? a war between residents, drug dealers and the people sworn to protect one from the other. This war has its casualties, none greater than L.A.P.D. Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris (DENZEL WASHINGTON), a 13-year veteran narcotics officer whose questionable methodology blurs the line between legality and corruption. His optimism has long since been chipped away by his tour of duty in the streets, where fighting crime by the book can get you killed, and getting the job done often requires Alonzo and his colleagues to break the laws they are empowered to enforce.

A gritty, realistic drama set in the morally ambiguous world of undercover police investigation, Training Day shadows Alonzo as he tests the resolve of idealistic rookie Jake Hoyt (ETHAN HAWKE), who has one day and one day only to prove himself to his fiercely charismatic superior. Over the next 24 hours, Jake will be pulled deeper and deeper into the ethical mire of Alonzo?s logic as both men put their lives and careers on the line to serve their conflicting notions of justice.

Training Day is a blistering action drama that asks the audience to decide what is necessary, what is heroic and what crosses the line in the harrowing gray zone of fighting urban crime. Does law-abiding law enforcement come at the expense of justice and public safety? If so, do we demand safe streets at any cost? Or do we risk our security by insisting that those empowered to protect us do so within the boundaries of the law?

At a time when police across the nation are battling a public image of rampant corruption, narcotics use, planting evidence and excess brutality while patrolling the meanest streets of America, Training Day paints a gripping and realistic portrait of the war taking place on the urban front lines ? and just how high the costs of this battle can be.

You have to decide if you?re a sheep or a wolf, if you want to go to the grave or if you want to go home.
? Det. Sgt. Alonzo Harris to rookie Jake Hoyt

Training Day is a movie that comes straight from the streets it depicts ? a product of the match up between screenwriter David Ayer, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and director Antoine Fuqua, who grew up on the rough side of Pittsburgh. Both men are intimately familiar with the daily, potentially explosive face-offs between cops and criminals in urban America. ?Our generation doesn?t have a Vietnam, and we don?t have any external wars, but the war we?re fighting is within ? it?s inside the very heart and core of America,? says Antoine Fuqua. ?In communities across the country, the police are fighting the people and vice versa. It?s an explosive situation and it?s something that urgently needs to be talked about.?

As a 1998 Los Angeles Times report on 51 major urban police departments noted, on average, any police unit can ?expect to have ten officers charged per year with abuse of police authority, five arrested for a felony, seven for a misdemeanor, three for theft and four for domestic violence.? Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Washington D.C. are among the many U.S. cities that have experienced major police scandals in the last few years, most involving narcotics enforcement. Los Angeles, in particular, was recently rocked by the worst police scandal in its history ? accusations that officers in the city?s high-crime, gang-heavy Rampart division engaged in brutality, fabricated evidence and told outright lies in criminal investigation reports, while also stealing money and drugs from felons.

Rising young screenwriter David Ayer grew up in this same area of Los Angeles, where he personally witnessed the ways in which hardened gang members and equally hardened inner city cops danced around one another. Long before the Rampart scandal, Ayer wanted to show how it really is in these war zones within America ? and just how hard it is to walk the line between cop and criminal in a place where neither can afford to show any mercy. In 1995, he began writing a screenplay that would prove to be prophetic.

?I wanted to capture the rough and raw reality of the law enforcement mind-set in inner cities and look at where it comes from and also where it can lead,? says Ayer. ?I wanted to ask the question: ?When a cop goes bad, what does it do not only to the man but to the community???

While writing Training Day, Ayer unflinchingly immersed himself in the day-to-day rapport between gang-bangers and undercover officers in Los Angeles? toughest neighborhoods. ?I spent a lot of time observing and talking with people who live and work in these areas,? he says. ?I really wanted to get beneath the surface of what it?s like to be a cop out here and how the community looks at them.?

Ayer put most of what he learned about how and why cops use down and dirty methods into the character of Alonzo, who he calls ?a guy who?s so good at his job, it?s come at the expense of his soul.? He wanted Alonzo to be a seductive character, someone you want to believe in, want to care about, but who exists in a moral gray zone where right and wrong are no longer clear to him. ?I myself had many different feelings while writing him,? Ayer admits. ?There were times when I thought he was the greatest person in the world and other times when I was furious with myself for writing the words he speaks. One thing I knew for sure is that Alonzo himself believes he is right. He doesn?t see himself as evil ? in his own heart, he has decided that he is doing what is best for everybody.?

As a counterpoint, Ayer then created the character of Jake Hoyt, the young rookie who, until this day, had no idea how things really operate in the streets. ?The interesting thing is that Jake is who Alonzo used to be. Jake?s a young, daisy-fresh rookie from the Valley. He?s a guy who became a cop because he really believed in justice,? says Ayer. ?But the more he sees of Alonzo, who is so incredibly charismatic and effective and yet a real trickster, the more he has to question his beliefs until, in the end, he has to make his own decisions about what?s right and wrong.? Once Ayer had created his characters, he made the decision to tell the story over one adrenaline-fueled 24-hour period. ?I am fascinated by the kind of day a person has where everything is transformed,? he says. ?I liked the idea that Ethan Hawke?s character wakes up in the morning, kisses his wife goodbye, goes to work and comes home a different man. He will never be the same again.?

It was this gritty intensity and transformational power that drew producers Bobby Newmyer and Jeff Silver to the script. ?What attracted us was the incredible level of realism,? says Silver. ?This story hits you right in the gut with the actuality of what it?s like to be on the streets as an undercover cop. It?s an exciting ride, sheer adrenaline entertainment, but it?s also about two men in the midst of a moral quandary that affects us all.?

Adds Bobby Newmyer: ?You can really feel that this is a script written from David Ayer?s experience and knowledge of the streets. There?s real authenticity here behind an exciting story.?

?In the end,? Silver concludes, ?this is a movie about choices ? and it leaves the audience to make their own. It raises some really important questions: When it comes to fighting crime, is there one moral code or are there many? Which do we want more: effective police or police who follow the letter of the law? And can there be any compromise in between??

The heat and intensity of Training Day also derives from the urban vision of director Antoine Fuqua, who strove to bring the audience not only into what officers experience on the outside ? from chases to shoot-outs to life-or-death moments ? but on the inside as they grapple with an amoral world of drug dealers, murderer, rapists and thieves. Fresh from his stylish thriller The Replacement Killers, Fuqua wanted to create a gritty, unflinching, fast-moving intro to life on the other side of the legal line.

From the moment he read David Ayer?s script, Fuqua had in mind the raw realism of films such as Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico, but with his own contemporary street-wise visual style. ?I was immediately drawn to the script because it reminded me of the great cop dramas of the Seventies,? he says. ?It?s about something but it?s also a really interesting challenge for a filmmaker because you have to take these characters through an incredible amount of action and transformation in just one day.?

For Fuqua, capturing the visceral nature of life on the streets was paramount. ?I only wanted to shoot in real locations with real people in the background,? he says. ?I want to make it clear that these are everyday experiences in some people?s lives. The reality of life for cops and criminals in the inner-city isn?t something we should hide from ? it?s something we should be talking about and thinking about.?

Fuqua came to the project with a street credibility that uniquely prepared him for what was to come.

?Antoine Fuqua might be the only director around who can move through Hollywood and the gritty streets of Watts or Rampart or Crenshaw with equal agility,? says Bobby Newmyer. ?And that?s what this movie required.?

Jeff Silver concurs: ?Antoine brought the ability to capture the mean streets of L.A. in an honest and revealing way, but also with a visual style that makes every scene exciting ? whether it?s a major action sequence or just two guys in a car talking.?

The cast was also moved by Fuqua?s personal passion for capturing the grace and grit of these often ignored communities. Says Denzel Washington: ?Antoine brings both an edge and a heart to this story that makes it so much more powerful than your standard cop thriller. He turned it into something dangerous and important.?

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Review by

Film Reviewer
Simon graduated from Trinity Western University where he studied film under prolific screenwriter Ned Vankevich. He prefers independent and lower-budget films.

Click to enlargeHe's brilliantly portrayed inspirational leaders like Malcolm X, and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. He's usually the adored protagonist that everybody's rooting for. But in this film Denzel Washington plays a savage, volatile street narc named Alonzo Harris who's always on the verge of blowing up. You never really know where he's coming from, or what he's gonna do next. He's beyond fiery, and charismatic; he's explosive.
Click to enlargeJake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is the yin to Alonzo's yang. He's a conscientious, honest young cop who wants to join the narc unit to rid the streets of poison, and the killers distributing it. His main objective is to see justice served, whereas Alonzo believes in "street justice; letting the animals just wipe each other out."
Jake wakes up at five o'clock in the morning to his nursing wife and beautiful baby girl. It appears as though he genuinely cares about both his wife, and his work. She gives him a good-luck kiss before he leaves and assures him he's going to do great. Jake is concerned with making a good first impression on his training day. He wants to do well, so he can eventually move up to detective and essentially move up in life.
Jake and Alonzo first meet in a small diner. Alonzo is dressed in all black and sporting ice around his neck; he's a real pimp. Jake tries to make small talk but Alonzo's not interested. He's more interested in his morning paper, which he describes as 90 percent bullshit, but entertaining. Since Jake continually interrupts him, Alonzo puts down the paper and asks Jake to tell him a story, to entertain him. So Jake tells him a story about a D.U.I. bust he made that ended up preventing a murder-a feat he appears to be proud of. Alonzo, however, doesn't care about the bust. His only interest is whether or not Jake had sex with the female officer who made the bust with him.
Click to enlargeWhen they leave the diner they get into Alonzo's confiscated caddy. Alonzo hits some switches and peels out of the parking lot, and Jake's journey into Alonzo's violent world of drugs and guns begins. Their first stop is a back street where a 17 year old drug dealer is selling to a VW Bug full of white college kids, who probably only ever venture into this neighborhood to buy dope. The kid selling apparently works for Alonzo by tipping him off whenever big deals go down. When the Bug pulls away Alonzo and Jake take off after it, cut it off and jump out of the car with their guns drawn.
Alonzo doesn't bust the kids but he takes the weed they just bought. And Jake is visibly uncomfortable with Alonzo's aggressive style. But he's blown away when Alonzo insists he smoke the dope they just confiscated, which we later discover is laced with PCP. "No way," he says forcefully, but Alonzo insists that he smoke it, saying that if he refuses gifts on the street he'll end up dead. Jake continues to refuse until Alonzo comes to a screeching halt and forcefully tells him to either smoke it or get out of the car and go home. Even though he is uncomfortable he wants to make the unit, so he smokes it. The dope later becomes the catalyst for a homicide that Jake will either have to take the heat for or be framed for.
Click to enlargeAnd throughout the rest of the day Jake is faced with one unsettling scenario after another where he is forced to make a decision: he can follow suit and make the unit, or he can do what he thinks is right and risk not making it. Or perhaps each scenario is a test to see if he'll do the right thing. Jake never really knows what to think or do.
Click to enlargeHowever, just when we are completely convinced that Alonzo is nothing more than a dirty cop, he'll deliver a seemingly heartfelt monologue that causes us to reevaluate our perceptions of him. He's continually convincing Jake that he really wants to make the streets safe. And this is why we never really know what to expect with Alonzo, making Training Day different than most cop movies. It's driven less by action and explosions and more by character.
Click to enlargeMost importantly, Training Day is an example of the struggle between good and evil. Except here evil often appears to be good, as it is represented by the slick-talking Alonzo, who is usually very convincing when justifying his actions and decisions. Good and weak often appear to be synonymous with Jake, but in the end it is Jake's honesty that saves him, in more ways than one.

Subject: Training_Day
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2001
From: D.L.

I saw this film not long after it's release, and I found it to be a powerful film. Concerning do you have to be a wolf to catch a wolf--I don't think so. We are all sinner, were born that, and will remain so until we come to a knowledge of Christ. It is when we are in our sinful nature that we are the "wolf." After coming to Christ, we don't lose knowledge of past sins, we take that knowledge and use it to help other who are where we once were.

Subject: Training_Day
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001
From: Jason

"You gotta be a wolf to catch a wolf" - is that true for a Christian? Does that mean that in order to reach out to non-Christians, to an extent, you gotta do what they do to understand them - which would include things like drugs, alcohol, and sex? Maybe you gotta think like a wolf to catch a wolf, not actually be one.

Training Day ? 2001 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.