Judging from the commercial and trailers, Training Day looked like a colossal waste of energy. It seemed nothing more than loud rap music, blaring gunfights and an overacting Denzel Washington. So what a pleasant surprise it was to discover that there was actually a fine movie here. Washington (Remember the Titans) dominates every inch of film as a hardened veteran narcotics cop, whos not far removed from the criminals he sometimes chases. Ethan Hawke (Alive) is a naive rookie who rides along to learn the ropes but gets caught up in Washingtons nefarious dealings. Among them, shaking down drug dealers than keeping the booty, theft after enter a home with a fake search warrant and murder, to name a few.
Both Washington and Hawke turn in their best performances in a long time. And as the tension builds, they only get better, Hawke especially. While he doesnt physically look the part, Hawke carries himself with a solid toughness that hes never shown before. Washington on the other hand is brash and powerful, filled with enough electricity to power Las Vegas. But, even with all this lightning he manages to keep himself from rocketing over top, most of the time. There are few occasions where he overdoes it, but they are few and far between.
Director Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers and Bait) doesnt disappoint in his first shot at working with adult material. For once, his camera is relaxed as he ditches his usual flashy visuals for a more sedate, actor-friendly calmness. In doing so he gives the lead combatants plenty of room to spar.
The only glaring problem with the film, is its finale. Other than that, this ones a winner.
©2001 Community News Group
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