Is Training Day Denzel Washington’s best movie?
One of the greatest actors of our generation is Denzel Washington. That he plays an amateur detective (Devil in blue dress), a human rights activist (Malcolm X), or a mobster (American mobster)the veteran has proven his versatility in the film world and will always be remembered for bringing his A game to every role he plays. With Denzel Washington in the next Joel Coen film, Macbeth’s TragedyI thought it would be great to revisit one of the actor’s most cited and memorable films, training day. This brutal crime drama also stars Ethan Hawke (Childhood, before midnight) and Scott Glen (The silence of the lambs, Apocalypse Now), the film centers on Jake Hoyt, who is a rookie traveling through the LAPD’s toughest neighborhoods with a veteran cop. Hoyt hopes to join the narcotics unit downtown; however, Alonzo Harris may have different plans on rookie practice day. How could you forget, “King Kong ain’t fucking with me!” It’s not just the quote itself, but Washington’s terrific performance. At this point, Alonzo Harris was a dead man who was simply afraid of what was about to happen to him. Denzel managed to pull off a performance here on many levels: being scared, proud, and tough. let’s get rid of this, training day is NOT Denzel Washington’s best film. With films like Glory – in which he won his first Oscar here – Malcolm X, and philadelphia cream in his catalog, it is quite difficult to define this film as his best.
However, character-wise, Alonzo Harris is the best role Denzel Washington has ever had. Yes, better than Malcolm X, Frank Lucas or Creasy. Here’s the thing, Training Day is a great movie in every way. Is it perfect? No. Most hate the Harris disappearance ending, even though the moment was well constructed. However, the glue that holds the film together is both Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington. In fact, Jake Hoyt excels as a protagonist thanks to Alonzo Harris. It’s amazing that this is Washington’s first real role as a villain as the veteran slips into the role with beautiful swagger and poise. Alonzo Harris is a deplorable human being, but never to the point of being overdone or unbelievable. Sure, you could say pulling over in the middle of traffic and forcing Hoyt to get high is extreme, but even that moment never feels like you’re overstepping the bounds. Harris constantly abuses his power and is downright criminal; however, what really makes him a compelling character is what lies beneath his exterior exterior. We never get a full story on Harris and why he is the way he is; however, there are clues scattered throughout the film that give us a glimpse of the man he used to be.
During the car scene where Alonzo explains he was like Jake; Was he lying? Or tell the truth? Was Alonzo Harris a Corrupt Street Guy? Or has his rise to power turned him into a monster? These intriguing questions really push Harris to be one of cinema’s best villains (at least in my opinion). Harris’ evil and corruption make us want to support Hoyt. Alonzo is such a jerk that you want the rookie to shoot him, even if you feel sympathy for the monster during his infamous speech after meeting Jake. As previously stated, Harris is dead, but this is the first time in the film that he really shows his vulnerability. While we do have moments of humanization, most notably when he’s with his girlfriend and son, that one moment showcased him as a fully formed character. Did Alonzo deserve to be treated as a training target for the Russians? Probably not, because I think the best ending would have seen him get his reward from Jake or one of the criminals he treats like crap; however, it’s not like Antoine Fuqua randomly inserted Russians into the film to specifically kill Alonzo, so the ending is good in my book. training day may not be Denzel’s best film, but it’s certainly his greatest role.