Theatrical release poster with original release date
|Directed by||Antoine Fuqua|
|Written by||David Ayer|
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Edited by||Conrad Buff|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$104.9 million|
Training Day is a 2001 American crime thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, and written by David Ayer. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke star as two LAPD narcotics officers over a 12-hour period in the gang-ridden neighborhoods of Westlake, Echo Park and South Central Los Angeles.
The film was released on October 5, 2001 and grossed $104 million worldwide. The film received positive reviews, with Washington's performance being particularly praised and earning him the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 74th Academy Awards. His co-star Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. A television series based on the film, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, was announced in August 2015 and premiered February 2, 2017 on CBS, but was cancelled after one season.
Los Angeles Police Department's Officer Jake Hoyt is assigned for an evaluation headed by Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, a decorated narcotics officer. Alonzo is known to be a corrupt cop to several other narcotics officers who are also in on the take. Alonzo and Jake begin the day by catching some college kids buying cannabis. Confiscating the drugs from the kids, Alonzo tells Jake to smoke it. Jake refuses initially, but complies when Alonzo threatens him at gunpoint.
Alonzo states that refusing like this while on the streets would easily get him killed. He tells Hoyt shortly thereafter that the marijuana was laced and he has actually consumed PCP. After paying a visit to Roger, an ex-cop turned drug dealer, Jake notices a pair of addicts attempting to rape a teenage girl in an alley. Jake intervenes while Alonzo watches. After Alonzo scares them off, Jake finds the girl's wallet on the ground and retrieves it.
Later in the day, Alonzo and Jake apprehend a dealer named Blue who uses a wheelchair. They find crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. Rather than go to jail, Blue informs on his associate Kevin "Sandman" Miller, who is in prison. Using a fake search warrant, Alonzo steals $40,000 from Sandman's home. Sandman's wife realizes the theft and calls out to nearby gang members, who open fire on Alonzo and Jake as they flee.
At lunch, the two visit Alonzo's mistress Sara and their young son. Afterwards, Alonzo meets with a trio of corrupt high-ranking police officials he refers to as the "Three Wise Men". Aware that the Russian Mafia are looking for Alonzo, they suggest that he skip town. Alonzo insists he has control of the situation, and trades Sandman's drug money for an official arrest warrant.
Using the warrant, Alonzo, Jake, and four other corrupt narcotics officers return to Roger's house and seize $4 million from the premises. Alonzo shoots and kills Roger when Jake refuses to do so. Jake refuses to be a part of it, and when Alonzo threatens Jake for a second time, Jake seizes Alonzo's shotgun, prompting a Mexican standoff with the other officers. Alonzo tells Jake that the LAPD will run a blood test on him which will identify the PCP-laced cannabis he smoked earlier, and mimics what the local news will say about Jake should he die in the standoff. Alonzo promises he can falsify this in exchange for his cooperation, then stages a scenario to get everyone off the hook while Jake reluctantly agrees.
Later that evening, Alonzo drives Jake to the home of Smiley, a member of the Hillside Trece street gang, to run an errand. Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members as he waits for Alonzo and Smiley relates Alonzo's situation. By midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russians for killing one of their men in Las Vegas, or be killed himself.
Realizing that Alonzo abandoned him and has paid Smiley to kill him, Jake attempts to flee but is beaten and dragged to a bathtub to be executed. A gang member searches Jake for money before he is killed, and finds the wallet of the teenage girl, who happens to be Smiley's cousin. After confirming Jake's story of how he had saved her from being raped earlier that day, Smiley allows Jake to leave and returns his gun.
Jake returns to Sara's apartment to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight and chase ensue. Alonzo beats Jake and as he leaves to pay the Russians, Jake jumps on top of Alonzo's car, causing an accident. Alonzo is subdued, while the entire neighborhood congregates to watch. In an attempt to get the crowd on his side, Alonzo offers money to whoever kills Jake, but nobody interferes, having grown tired of Alonzo's corruption and arrogance, not even when he then threatens them with sending them to prison on trumped-up charges.
As Alonzo reaches for a gun, Jake shoots him in the rear and takes the money, along with Alonzo's badge. The neighborhood gang allows Jake to walk away with the money as an infuriated Alonzo watches, and Jake plans to submit it as evidence against Alonzo. Alonzo flees for his life to LAX, but he is ambushed and executed by the Russians. Jake returns home as the press reports on Alonzo's death, which eerily mirrors how Alonzo pictured the news would portray Jake.
- Denzel Washington as Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris
- Ethan Hawke as Officer Jake Hoyt
- Scott Glenn as Roger
- Eva Mendes as Sara
- 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 Esteban 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
- Terry Crews as Pigeon Flipper
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, an 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 Ethan 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 film crew 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.
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".
Training Day was originally scheduled for release on September 21, 2001, and had a strong advertising push. However, following the September 11 attacks, the film was pushed back until October 5, 2001, and opened at number one, grossing $24.2 million. At its second week of release, the film's gross revenue was $13,386,457, staying at the number one position. The film stayed in the top-ten box office until the seventh week of release, landing at number 12. With an estimated budget of $45 million, Training Day ultimately grossed $76.6 million in the US and $104.9 million worldwide.
Training Day received favorable reviews from critics. On review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 72% approval rating, based on 159 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 69 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."
Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Rechtshaffen gave the film a positive review on September 12, 2016 when he stated: "Denzel Washington ventures into the dark side as a seriously corrupt narcotics cop in Training Day, and the results are electrifying. So is the picture, thanks to taut, sinewy direction by Antoine Fuqua and a compelling script by David Ayer (The Fast and the Furious)."
Denzel Washington's performance as Detective Alonzo Harris was highly praised by critics. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert said: "Washington seems to enjoy a performance that's over the top and down the other side". In The Village Voice, Amy Taubin expressed: "Training Day, Antoine Fuqua's propulsive, elegantly written police thriller, offers the unsettling spectacle of Denzel Washington, whose old-fashioned combination of decency and sexiness suggests the African American counterpart to Gregory Peck (in his To Kill a Mockingbird period), as an LAPD cop so evil he makes Harvey Keitel's bad lieutenant look like even smaller potatoes than he was meant to be".
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.
In the CBS television series Alonzo is mentioned by Deputy Chief Joy Lockhart when briefing Officer Kyle Craig on sending him undercover at LAPD's Special Investigation Section to investigate Detective Frank Roarke. Frank briefly mentions Alonzo at the end of the first season. The series, starring Bill Paxton and Justin Cornwell premiered on February 2, 2017.
On May 17, 2017, Antonie Fuqua announced the series had been canceled after one season and four months after Paxton's death.
In October 2019, it was reported that Warner Bros. was developing a prequel to Training Day. The prequel follows a young Alonzo Harris in late April 1992, two days before the verdict of the Rodney King trial and the L.A. riots.
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