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Antoine Fuqua
Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn
David Ayer

A rookie cop spends his first day as a Los Angeles narcotics officer with a rogue detective who isn't what he appears to be.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 8/1/2006

• Audio Commentary With Director Antoine Fuqua
• “The Making of Training Day” Featurette
• Additional Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• 2 Music Videos
• Trailer


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Training Day [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 9, 2021)

One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Denzel Washington won his first Academy Award for 1989’s Glory. For Washington’s second – and to date last – Oscar, we go to 2001’s Training Day.

Young LAPD cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) works the streets for a year but wants something else for his career. This leads him to apply to the department’s narcotics bureau.

Jake gets the job and needs to go through a “training day” alongside veteran officer Alonzo Harris (Washington). Alonzo uses effective but unorthodox methods that force Jake to confront ethical issues right off the bat.

After six years in music videos, director Antoine Fuqua moved to feature films via 1998’s The Replacement Killers, a wholly unexceptional action flick. He followed with 2000’s Bait, another wholly unexceptional action flick.

Training Day managed to escalate Fuqua’s profile, though this doesn’t occur because he suddenly enjoyed an infusion of acting talent. Killers featured Chow-Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino, whereas Bait starred Jamie Foxx and David Morse. This means the Washington/Hawke duo doesn’t suddenly move Fuqua to the A-list.

Day did launch Fuqua’s long-term relationship with Washington, though. Though they didn’t work together again until 2014’s Equalizer, they made three movies from 2014 to 2018.

As noted, Washington won an Academy Award for his work here, and Hawke earned a nomination as well. Those became the movie’s only Oscar credentials, probably because the actors turn into the sole notable aspect of the film.

Not that I think Day offers a bad film independent of its cast, as it brings a serviceable cop flick. Granted, it plays less well circa 2021 than it did in 2001 due to changing attitudes toward “rogue cops”.

As I write this review, it’s about a year after the Black Lives Matter movement’s major impact on US society and the massive protests related to the murder of George Floyd. These shifts make it much more difficult to watch a story of a cop with questionable ethics.

That said, Day doesn’t turn Alonzo into Harry Callahan, the fascistic sort whose methods might go against namby-pamby rules but who works for the greater good. Alonzo exists in a more nebulous state, as we see how his tactics take bad guys off the street but also cross the line into open illegality.

Day eventually turns Alonzo dark enough that the questions disappear, and that turns into a problem. The movie works better when it leaves the audience with the need to decide if the results merit the methods, but once Alonzo becomes truly bad, all nuance leaves the tale.

Without an especially strong story, Day gets by mainly due to its aforementioned strong cast. Did Washington really deserve an Oscar for his work as Alonzo? Probably not, if just because the role lacks great depth.

Alonzo starts off as a shady character and never emerges as much more than that, though as noted, he borders on evil eventually. Washington does great with the role as written, but the script doesn’t leave him enough room to turn Alonzo into anything three-dimensional.

The same goes for Hawke. He gets the thankless role as the semi-innocent neophyte, and he also does fine in the part, but he fails to find ways to bring out material the screenplay lacks.

Day works better than Fuqua’s first two movies, but it doesn’t live up to the talent it puts in front of the camera. Like his subsequent films, Day keeps us involved but it never threatens to become anything creative.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Training Day appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A release from Blu-ray’s early days, the image showed its age, though it held up better than expected.

For the most part, sharpness worked pretty well, though this came with issues, as edge haloes permeated much of the movie. These didn’t become egregious, but they created distractions and gave the film an artificially sharp feel.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. Some mild compression artifacts appeared, though these didn’t seem bad, and I saw no signs of print flaws.

Colors went with a stylized feel that emphasized heavy blues and ambers. The tones felt strong and became one of the best aspects of the image.

Blacks felt dark, though occasionally crushed, and shadows showed reasonably good clarity, albeit a little flat at times. Really, without the edge haloes and artifacts, this would’ve been a pretty good presentation. As it stood, it felt watchable but erratic.

As for the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it showed the scope I expected from a cop movie. That meant a lot of street ambience and occasional bursts of action.

Music displayed appealing stereo presence, and the environmental information related to the police on patrol showed appropriate involvement and engagement. Occasional gunfights and car chases brought useful movement as well and they gave the mix some oomph.

Audio quality seemed fine, though the track lost points due to its lossy nature. Granted, lots of Blu-rays remained lossy in 2006, but I still dock BDs without lossless material.

Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded rich and full.

Effects offered appropriate fidelity and brought accurate tones. This became a perfectly solid track for a cop flick.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we get an audio commentary from director Antoine Fuqua. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, influences, cast and performances, photography, music, and related domains.

For the most part, Fuqua brings us a decent commentary, as he touches on a good array of topics. However, he works a little too hard to convince us how authentic the movie is, and that gets old. Nonetheless, we learn a reasonable amount about the production.

The Making of Training Day runs 15 minutes, two seconds and provides notes from Fuqua, producers Jeffrey Silver and Bobby Newmyer, writer David Ayer, technical advisor Shiheed “Bone” Sloan, and actors Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Macy Gray.

“Making” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, shooting in LA, and Fuqua’s impact on the production. A few decent notes emerge, but “Making” mainly offers a promo piece.

Five Additional Scenes span a total of 12 minutes, 33 seconds. Most of these offer additional exposition for the two leads and show us more of their time together, though the last one comes late in the movie and helps develop a supporting role a bit more. All are interesting to see, though I’m not sure the movie needed any of them.

We also find a four-minute, 46-second Alternate Ending. It presents the same fate for Alonzo but adds follow-up for Jake. It feels too on the nose and unnecessary.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get music videos from Nelly’s “#1” and Ppharoahe Monch’s “Got You”. The former mostly mixes lip-synch footage with movie clips, while the latter tries a little harder to create its own story. Both songs seem dated but decent, and the videos are watchable but unexceptional as well.

20 years after its release, Training Day remains remembered due to Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winning lead performance. I can’t find much else to keep the film in the public consciousness, as it mostly feels like a fairly generic “rogue cop” tale. The Blu-ray brings pretty decent picture and audio along with a good roster of bonus materials. Day becomes a watchable but not memorable effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4285 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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