So, I finally watched Training Day! I promise I haven’t been living in an alternate reality or under a rock. Ever been barred from watching a certain movie because you were too young and then, years on, you realize you never came around to actually watching it? Well, Training Day is one such movie for me.
As soon as I heard that The Roku Channel was going to have Training Day for free all through October, I made sure to watch it immediately. As a first-time watcher and, in general, a crime aficionado, the movie had me captivated from the opening scene.
Pre-movie shenanigans: Popcorn & pasta ready! Time for a little premise, shall we? I love Ethan Hawke. That guy is something else. Put him in any movie, and he has this way of owning it to the point that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in that role. I love him in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy and I was absolutely thrilled to watch him in a crime thriller. From Jesse to Jake Hoyt, bring it on!
Denzel Washington is as fine as they come. I have seen plenty of his movies but his role as Alonzo Harris, by far, takes the cake. If you end up hating a character so much that you want him dead, you know the actor has done a damn good job. I was seriously not prepared for what I was about to watch…
So, here’s what I realized watching Training Day for the very first time, 18 years after its release:
*Spoilers ahead* Read at your own risk.
1. Rookie cop meets his mentor. What could go wrong? It’s called Training Day for a reason, eh? I was so wrong. All the possible hell that can break loose in a span of 12 hours was laid out right before me and at 12 AM, I was sitting bated breath on every next scene.
2. Alonzo Harris is an unsettling character, one that will stay with you for long after the movie ends.
- What a guy! Look at him go!
- I don’t get him.
- Wow, I absolutely hate this guy.
- Why have I never seen this movie? I LOVE this guy.
- I hate him! Absolutely hate him.
- *nods head in admiration* I know what you mean. I can relate.
No wonder Denzel Washington took home the Oscar for this!
3. Jake Hoyt could be anything, but he sure wasn’t someone who would bow down to authority just because. In the first few scenes, in the cafe, you can see he is nervous, jittery and stammering his way into the picture because he absolutely wants IN on the Alonzo Team. But he knew the right from wrong and had the guts to stand his ground, even if he stands alone.
4. Fun fact: Training Day could have been an all-star rappers’ parade with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre if only Eminem had taken up the opportunity to play Jake Hoyt. Turns out, Eminem wanted to focus on 8 Mile and others who were offered this role (Tobey Maguire, Matt Damon, Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr., Scott Speedman) didn’t quite make the cut. Tobey Maguire gained weight and followed undercover narcotics officers in LA for two months researching for the role when Fuqua’s first choice, Hawke, became available. And the rest is just history. Training Day was also Macy Gray’s debut. She portrayed Sandman’s wife.
5. The movie was written in 1995, but when the LAPD officer Rafael Pérez corruption scandal came into light, wherein he was caught stealing cocaine from an evidence locker, the project was put on he shelf. Ultimately, the movie was released in 2001 and grossed $76.6 million in the US and $104.9 million worldwide.
6. The whole vibe of movie was real. Imperial Courts housing project located in Watts, LA was off-limits initially citing security reasons. However, Antoine Fuqua wanted to portray things as honestly as possible, so the ban was lifted and the residents of Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, Firestone, South Central, Rampart, Inglewood, Crenshaw and Imperial Courts were cast in small roles and as extras.
7. The scene in Smiley’s (Cliff Curtis) kitchen is one Oscar-winning slow burn in itself. They ask Hoyt to play cards, show them his gun, talk about his time as a cop and you can tell the director is playing you. You’re being set up for something grand – you just don’t know it yet. When they show you the eerie ghost town shot out the window, and Alonzo’s car is gone, you connect the dots and know why the bathtub request was brought up. He projects himself to be this caring, I-was-just-like-you-once cop but underneath it all, he has become the monster he once was chasing.
8. Training Day has some iconic lines and when teamed with right setting, timing and the actors delivering it, it calls for one quotable movie, scene after scene. Take this one for instance, when Denzel explains to Hawke how the world works, this relatable gem just fits well:
9. Denzel Washington added quite a lot to the movie to make it this grand. He fought to change the original ending where Fuqua lets Alonzo Harris live. He realized after all those downright nasty, smug acts, watching Alonzo skate away to freedom without any consequences would have made the coldest blood boil. Also, this masterpiece of a line was Washington’s ad lib:
And with that, I leave you guys with some good news. Warner Bros. recently announced that they are working on a prequel for Training Day. Wonder who gets to play the young Denzel Washington. Perhaps his son, John David Washington? If that were the case, he’s got some big Oscar golden shoes to fill. This is a story for another time.
If you’re in the mood for one of the more memorable cop thrillers in the past 20 years, Training Day is streaming for free on The Roku Channel until October 31.
Source: Official Roku Website