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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Written by||David Ayer|
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Edited by||Conrad Buff|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$104.5 million|
Training Day is a 2001 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, written by David Ayer, and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The story follows two LAPD narcotics officers over a 24-hour period in the gang-ridden neighborhoods of the LAPD Rampart Division and South Central Los Angeles.
The film was released on October 5, 2001 and grossed $104 million worldwide. Washington's performance as Detective Alonzo Harris, a departure from his usual roles, was particularly praised and earned him an Oscar for Best Actor at the 74th Academy Awards. His co-star Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as rookie cop, Officer Jake Hoyt.
The film follows a day in the life of Los Angeles Police Department officer Jake Hoyt, who is scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris, a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer, for a possible promotion. Riding around in Alonzo's car, they begin the day by catching some college kids buying cannabis from a MS-13 gang member. Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to smoke it – Jake refuses at first, only to comply when Alonzo threatens him at gunpoint, with the explanation that refusing an offer on the street could get him killed. After smoking it, Alonzo informs him that the weed was laced with PCP. They then pay a brief visit to Roger, an old friend of Alonzo's who is also a drug dealer and former police officer. Back in the car, Jake notices a teenage girl being sexually assaulted and runs out to subdue the attackers while Alonzo watches. Alonzo tells the girl to leave and allows the men to go free, despite Jake's disapproval. Jake finds the girl's wallet on the ground and takes it.
Alonzo and Jake later apprehend a wheelchair-bound dealer named Blue, finding crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. In exchange for his freedom, Blue reveals his associate: Kevin "Sandman" Miller, who is in prison. Alonzo takes Jake to Sandman's home in Watts, where he uses a fake search warrant to steal $40,000 from the premises. However, Sandman's wife realizes the scam and calls out to nearby gang members, who open fire. The two officers barely escape.
For lunch, the duo visit Alonzo's Salvadoran mistress, Sara, and their young son at Baldwin Village. Afterwards, Alonzo meets with a trio of high-ranking police officials dubbed as the "Three Wise Men" – they tell Alonzo that they know the Russian Mafia is hunting him and suggest that he leave town, but he insists that he has control of the situation and gets permission to "cash in an account". Alonzo thus gives them Sandman's drug money for an arrest warrant.
Alonzo takes Jake and four other narcotics officers back to Roger's house – using the warrant, they seize $4 million from underneath the floor of his kitchen, but Jake refuses to take his share of the cash. Alonzo then kills Roger and arranges for the scene to appear like a justified shooting. Jake refuses to cooperate and after being threatened, seizes Alonzo's shotgun, prompting a Mexican standoff. However, Alonzo calms his associates and claims that the LAPD will run a blood test on Jake (identifying the PCP he smoked), the result of which he can falsify in exchange for Jake's cooperation. Jake reluctantly gives in.
Alonzo drives Jake to the home of a Sureño named Smiley, allegedly to run an errand. He furtively abandons Jake as Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members. A tense conversation ensues in which Smiley reveals Alonzo's situation: by midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russian Mafia for killing one of their men in Las Vegas, or be killed himself. Jake realizes too late that Alonzo had paid Smiley to kill him, and is beaten and dragged to the bathtub for execution. The gang search Jake to find the wallet dropped by the teenage girl, who is revealed to be Smiley's cousin. Smiley calls her, who confirms that Jake risked his life to defend her. In gratitude, Smiley lets Jake go.
Jake returns to Sara's apartment and attempts to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight and chase ensues, which ends with Jake subduing Alonzo in his car. The local gang members and residents begin congregating to watch. Alonzo tries to get the crowd on his side by offering a reward to whoever kills Jake; but instead, they allow Jake to walk away with the money (who intends to submit it as evidence against Alonzo). Alonzo attempts to flee via Los Angeles International Airport, but is found and killed by Russian Mafia hitmen in a street shooting. Jake returns home, and Alonzo's death is broadcast over the news, which touts him as a heroic officer.
- Denzel Washington as Detective Alonzo Harris
- Ethan Hawke as Officer Jake Hoyt
- Eva Mendes as Sara
- Scott Glenn as Roger
- Cliff Curtis as Smiley
- Raymond Cruz as Sniper
- Noel Gugliemi as Moreno
- Dr. Dre as Paul
- Peter Greene as Jeff
- Nick Chinlund as Tim
- Jaime P. Gomez as Mark
- Snoop Dogg as Blue
- Macy Gray as Sandman's wife
- Charlotte Ayanna as Lisa Hoyt
- Harris Yulin as Detective Doug Rosselli
- Tom Berenger as Stan Gursky
- Raymond J. Barry as Captain Lou Jacobs
- Samantha Becker as Letty
- Seidy López as Dreamer
- Rudy Perez as PeeWee
- Cle Shaheed Sloan as Bone
- Abel Soto as Neto
- Denzel Whitaker as Dimitri
- Fran Kranz as College Driver
Although corruption in L.A.'s C.R.A.S.H. unit had yet to be exposed when Training Day was written, Antoine Fuqua has stated that the emergence of the Rampart Scandal in the late 1990s catalyzed the completion of the film. Denzel Washington also grew a beard in order to emulate the appearance of Rafael Pérez, a LAPD narcotics officer involved in multiple scandals. Fuqua wanted Washington's character to be seductive and part of a machine, and not just a random rogue cop. In Washington's own words: "I think in some ways he's done his job too well. He’s learned how to manipulate, how to push the line further and further, and, in the process, he’s become more hard-core than some of the guys he's chasing."
Fuqua also saw Hawke's character as generally honorable but so driven by ambition that he was willing to compromise his principles, particularly when following the charming and persuasive example of Washington's character. He has said that he fought with studio executives who wanted to cut the Three Wise Men scene, thinking it slowed the film. He insisted that the Wise Men scene was pivotal in establishing that at least some of Alonzo's illegal actions were sanctioned by his superiors who regarded unethical behavior as a necessary evil.
Fuqua wanted Training Day to look as authentic as possible, and he shot on location in some of the most infamous neighborhoods of Los Angeles. He even obtained permission to shoot in the Imperial Courts housing project, the first time L.A. street gangs had allowed cameras to be brought into that neighborhood. The crew also filmed in Hoover Block and Baldwin Village. Parts of the film were shot on a dead end street called Palmwood Drive, where the Black P. Stones Blood gang members were seen on the rooftops. Cle Shaheed Sloan, the gang technical advisor of Training Day, managed to get on screen real-life gang members from Rollin' 60 Crips, PJ Watts Crips, and B. P. Stones (a Bloods set). According to Fuqua, the actors and crew ended up receiving a warm welcome from local residents. When he was unable to shoot a scene directly on location, he recreated the locations on sets.
There were also two police officers on hand as technical advisors, Michael Patterson and Paul Lozada (the latter from the San Francisco Police Department). Washington, Hawke and other cast members also met with undercover police officers, local drug dealers, and gang members to help them understand their roles better.
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Training Day received favorable reviews from critics. On review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 72% approval rating, based on 155 reviews, with a rating average of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The ending may be less than satisfying, but Denzel Washington reminds us why he's such a great actor in this taut and brutal police drama." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film three-out-of-four stars, praising both the lead and supporting actors and the film's gritty, kinetic energy. However, Ebert was bothered by several plot holes and wrote that "[a] lot of people are going to be leaving the theater as I did, wondering about the logic and plausibility of the last 15 minutes."
The film was released in theaters on October 5, 2001, and opened at #1. At its second week of release, the film's gross revenue was $13,386,457, staying at the #1 position. The film stayed in the top-ten box office until the seventh week of release, landing at #12. With an estimated budget of $45 million, Training Day ultimately grossed $76.6 million in the US and $104.9 million worldwide.
A soundtrack containing hip hop music was released on September 11, 2001, by Priority Records. It peaked at 35 on the Billboard 200 and 19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spawned two hit singles, Nelly's "#1" and Dr. Dre and DJ Quik's "Put It on Me".
In 2002, Denzel Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor and the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain for his performance in Training Day. Ethan Hawke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Washington and Hawke also received SAG nominations, with the former receiving a Golden Globe nod.
TV series adaptation
On August 7, 2015, it was announced that Antoine Fuqua had decided to develop a television series based on the movie, and had teamed with Jerry Bruckheimer to develop the concept. Warner Bros. Television was shopping the show to the American broadcast networks. Will Beall would write the series, while Fuqua would serve as executive producer, and would direct the potential pilot. CBS ordered a pilot on August 14, 2015. In addition to Fuqua, Bruckheimer, Beall, and Jonathan Littman will serve as executive producers for the series, which is set 15 years after the original film. In May 2016, CBS picked up the series.
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