Evil is a seed. As long as you love it and care for it, it can grow into an insurmountable monster within the host that houses it--gnawing relentlessly at the moral construct until it is totally consumed. And to arm it, shield it behind a badge and put it on a pay roll is more than we should stand. This is the core message of Training Day. A movie about evil and how it waits patiently and with a manipulative turn of the head detoured with the guilt and truth as the sole ammunition.
One of the great things about this flick is how nothing is arbitrary when it looks like it should be. Hawke's training day is plotted out methodically by a wiser and more experienced mentor and the rookie has to find his way through the layers of gray, deciding what he's going to let slide and what is too far. It's one of the few crime stories where the acting is all around good and particularly by Cliff Curtis who plays gang heavy, Smiley. Curtis was the rebel leader in Three Kings, the drug dealer in Bringing Out the Dead, the drug lord, Escobar, in Blow and one of the earnest crew members, Heko, in Virus. In all this corruption and gray area, there sits a moral center that could be overlooked if you blink. But the movie ends with an uneasiness of not knowing where the characters might wind up come the next day.
Some of the writing is a bit expository as Hawke announces to his wife, "If I ace this assignment then I can have my own division one day." This is more for the audience to know than it gives to the scene, especially when he tells this to Denzel five minutes later in screen time. But in all, this is a great flick in all aspects of filmmaking, acting, writing, music and so on down the line.
Trailer, Commentary, Making-of Documentary, Additional Scenes and Alternate Ending and two music videos by Nelly and Pharoahe Monch.
Other Los Angeles Crime Flicks:
Heat, Point Break, Colors, Chinatown, South Central, Menace II Society, L.A. Confidential.
Training Day (3 1/2 out of Four)
R, 2001, 115 min., Warner Bros. Home Video.
Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Tom Berenger, Harris Yulin, Raymond J. Barry, Cliff Curtis, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Macy Gray, Music by Mark Mancina, Produced by Jeffrey Silver and Bobby Newmyer, Written by David Ayer and Directed by Antoine Fuqua.