Friday, March 4, 2011

Training Day. C-

If you want to see Denzel Washington play a villain, watch his strong turn as Frank Lucas in American Gangster. Due to the kind of actor Denzel is, menace combined with crazy energy simply doesn't work. But that's what's on full display in Training Day, and that's what earned him his Oscar as a leading man. Denzel can do whatever he wants for sure, but his natural talent begs him to take a softer approach. It doesn't mean he must always heed to the strong hearted, gentle hero. In fact, playing a charming villain like Frank Lucas is right up his alley. A role like that allows him to be a gentleman, and Denzel was born to play one, even if they are corrupt at the heart. In Training Day, he's not a gentleman, but a rugged, foul-mouthed narcotics officer with his very own and very distinct code of ethics. Basically, his reasoning is this: to truly master the art of taking down criminals, you have to be a criminal yourself. He tries to instill this attitude in the mind of his new partner, a rookie named Jake, played by Ethan Hawke. Jake at first admires this cop, then he questions the morality behind his actions, and then by the end of the film he's got a gun on him. And the end of the movie is the end of the day, the training day in which Jake has far more adventures than we can possibly believe. There's also a terrible coincidence that saves Jake's life, and then the ending that's probably one of the most critically panned conclusions in movie history. This is an Antoine Fuqua movie, and I really don't ever see this guy going anywhere. He wants to be a serious filmmaker, but all of his movies tend to pander to the viewer's sensations. He doesn't seem to have the patience to really slow down and make us believe what we're watching.

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