‘Training Day’ Movie and 4K UHD Review
The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
It has been a long time since I have sat down and watched “Training Day” from start to finish. Upon hearing about its 4K release from the fine folks over at Warner Brothers, I was looking forward to sitting down and revisiting it and seeing how it would hold up twenty-two years later. Denzel Washington can always be counted on to give a powerful performance, and he does not disappoint here in a role that earned him an Oscar. Ethan Hawke is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors, and the pairing of these two together was something I looked forward to with great anticipation. When you throw in the direction of Antoine Fuqua, a frequent collaborator with Washington, everything seemed to be in order for a great film.
“Training Day” opens up by introducing the audience to Jake Hoyt, played by Hawke. Jake is a young up-and-comer on the police force who is looking to make a name for himself in the Los Angeles Police Department. But before he’s considered for a promotion, Jake must spend a day under the watchful eye of Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) who will see if he’s cut out for the big leagues. Jake is looking to clean up the streets and get rid of the drugs and crime in the Los Angeles area. He’s eager to learn from Alonzo, but he’s not exactly sure what to make of him as Alonzo has a big personality. Also, Alonzo doesn’t always play by the rules.
In Alonzo’s mind, he has to do what is necessary to survive out there in Los Angeles as a detective. The great director William Friedkin used to talk about how there was a fine line between the police officer and the criminal as well as the good guy and the bad guy. Alonzo is someone who definitely falls under that category. However, the more time Jake spends with Alonzo, the more Jake realizes he didn’t exactly sign up for Alonzo’s unique style of being a detective. Alonzo has got an edge to him, and it is something which makes Jake quite uncomfortable at times.
Make no mistake about it, this is Washington’s movie. It is a big performance from the actor as he finds himself in many situations where he seems to be in control of things, but he’s also losing his sense of reality. When certain people get into a position of power, they don’t always know when to stop or reel it in before it ends up biting them in the behind. Washington is captivating on screen, and he hits all of the right notes without ever being too over-the-top. Yes, it’s a showy, loud and in-your-face performance, but this is what the film needs in order for the character to come across the way writer David Ayer and Fuqua drew him up to be.
Hawke, on the other hand, is subdued for most of the film, but you can also see the anguish on his face. He’s uncomfortable by this whole situation, but he’s not in a position of power where he can do anything about it. In the last forty-minutes, Hawke gets his chance to shine, and he delivers in a meaningful and intense way. He’s one of those actors who knows how to make big moments count. In many ways, Jake is waiting in the wings and waiting for his chance to pounce and take over. Jake is not corrupt or out for money like Alonzo. He truly wants to be a good cop and help people. Their car rides provide for fascinating dialogue as we see the hardened and rough Alonzo interacting with the young and prideful Jake as he tries to fight off the cynicism and charisma of Alonzo.
Overall, “Training Day” is far from a perfect film. The acting, though, is flawless. Every single actor on screen is at the top of their game. We even get scenes with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. The soundtrack is also really, really good. However, I found the script to be a little bit repetitive in certain instances. After a while, we get the idea of what’s happening with Alonzo and his moral compass. We know what to expect from him and, at times, it seems like it’s the same scene just played out in a different setting and with different actors. I was looking for more character development as well from the supporting cast. The two leads could have been fleshed out more too.
In the end, the performances from Hawke and Washington mixed with a violent and brutal final act are what make this film worth watching and worth recommending. I think it’s a good cop movie, but it could have been a great cop movie. It’s a good movie with great performances, and I wish it was as good as the performances from its leads. As mentioned previously, the third act features some really, really gripping material which stayed with me. The middle act, however, tends to drag and seems to be spinning its wheels. I liked “Training Day” a lot, but I didn’t love it.
* * * out of * * * *
4K Info: “Training Day” is released on a two-disc 4K combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It comes with the 4K, Blu-ray and a digital copy of the film as well. I found it interesting, however, that the 4K and Blu-ray are in Blu-ray packaging as opposed to a black 4K case. It was different, and I didn’t mind it, but it is worth noting. It also comes with a really nice slipcover. The film has a running time of 122 minutes and is rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, drug content and brief nudity. The 4K looks really, really good with its HDR. When the film gets darker, it has a really grim and moody look that makes it worth the upgrade. This is the best I’ve seen this film look, and I was very impressed with the finished product.
Audio Info: We are treated to a Dolby Atmos track, and it really packs a big wallop here during the more intense and violent scenes. However, it’s not so loud and overwhelming that it’s distracting or you need to look for your remote. It’s perfect.
Pharoahe Monch’s “Got You” music video
Nelly’s “#1” music video
Commentary by director Antoine Fuqua
“Training Day:” Crossing the Line Featurette
Should You Buy It?
Considering the memorable moments and performances, “Training Day” is a film I firmly believe you should add to your 4K collection. As per usual, we get the same special features that have been transported over from the Blu-ray release. I can’t be disappointed by this anymore, as it’s to be expected. At this point, if you don’t own “Training Day” at all, or if you own the Blu-ray, you are wondering if you should upgrade to 4K. In my eyes, it’s a no-brainer. I loved the dark and murky look of it. It’s an unsettling film (in a good way) and the HDR transfer really encapsulates the dread and moodiness. If you haven’t seen the film before, there is a lot to like from Hawke and Washington on screen. Washington shows why he is one of the greatest actors of his generation as he crushes it here. Hawke, one of my favorite actors, gives a very subdued, conflicted and under-the-radar performance which only gets better with age. This is a film which, if you are going to own it, you have to own it on 4K.
**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.