March 7, 2024

If You Liked That, You’ll Love This: Training Day (2001)

Just like the “Because You Watched…” lane that pops up on your favorite streaming service, Now Playing Podcast wants to help you find the perfect companion flicks. Each week, contributor Chris Bravo brings you fresh recommends that tie in with one of our reviews.

I get it. Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle was the perfect character to both hate and root for at the same time in The French Connection. I absolutely despised his dirty police tactics, his rotten discrimination, his recklessness with the law. And yet, I was rooting for him to get Charnier at the end. I wanted him to redeem himself and do something well, and do it right. Maybe it wouldn’t have been the most realistic portrayal of a dirty cop going straight, but I love a good redemption arc. And while I didn’t really get it, I was invested in the possibility for the entire film.

You know what other film took this exact concept, updated it for the 21st century, and gave us one of the most memorable performances by one of the most celebrated actors? Training Day (2001), directed by Antoine Fuqua and featuring Denzel Washington in arguably his most memorable role. Playing in the role of Alonzo Harris, a veteran narcotics officer in Los Angeles, is tasked with training a new member of his team, Jake Hoyt (played by Ethan Hawke). And he makes Popeye Doyle look like an innocent boy scout. Drug use, bribery, theft, blatant murder–Alonzo is not above any of it as he doles out justice as he sees fit. And Washington plays the role with all of the pizzazz and cool of nearly every character he plays. So even though he is a legitimate villain for most of the film, I too root for his redemption, his reevaluation of his own ethics, his grand machinations for the greater good. And like in The French Connection, I was mesmerized for the whole film, anticipating the outcome.

So if you like great cop movies with less-than-great cops, I can’t recommend Training Day enough. It’s ugly and harsh and brutal, but I couldn’t ever look away.

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