Training Day, 2001.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg.
Training Day arrives on 4K Ultra HD with a solid video presentation that is an improvement over the previous Blu-ray. The film is also included on an upgraded Blu-ray disc, along with a code for a digital copy, although all of the bonus features are the same ones found on the previous DVD and Blu-ray editions.
I find some jobs to be fascinating from a point-of-view of “I could never do that in a million years.” Yes, I’m a middle-aged white guy with a marketing job who works from home and can’t even begin to imagine the complexities that a guy like Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington, in an Oscar-winning performance) navigates in Training Day.
Yes, Alonzo’s methods are suspect, but I don’t think director Antoine Fuqua and writer David Ayer intended for us to see him as the “bad guy” and his trainee, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), as the “good guy.” Alonzo repeatedly reminds his protege that their job, one in which they drive around in an unmarked car and wear regular clothes, is not as black-and-white as Jake might think.
That point is repeatedly underscored as Alonzo and Jake make their way through single day in Los Angeles, engaging in everything from a small-time drug bust of some college kids to venturing into a really bad part of the city where the residents know Alonzo is a cop but also have a certain amount of respect for him because he’s willing to get his hands dirty.
The situations escalate in intensity until Jake is put to the ultimate test of his moral compass in act three. While each character’s fate ends up in line with what you might expect to happen to them, I’d argue that the overall story still asks the question, “Where’s the line when you’re a police officer dealing with hardcore criminals who have a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality?”
While I’m of course disgusted by the needless deaths that have happened at the hands of police officers in recent years, I think it’s a different situation when you’re dealing with heavily armed drug dealers and you’re trying to negotiate with them on their turf. It’s kind of like being in a wartime situation where you’re not always sure who you can trust and you may make some decisions that were the wrong ones in retrospect.
Like I said, I’m not cut out to deal with that kind of thing. As I joked to a co-worker the other day, I’d probably die in the first episode if I was a Game of Thrones character. I have a hard enough time navigating office culture politics; I can’t imagine trying to deal with “make the wrong decision and you’re dead” kind of situations.
If you enjoyed this movie too, you’ll likely want to pick up this new 4K Ultra HD edition from Warner Bros. While there’s nothing new in the bonus features department, the film looks glorious in 4K. Training Day’s color palette is mostly muted, punctuated by gorgeous shots of the sun that mark the passage of time and have a hazy feel to them, which is in line with the film’s depiction of life on the gritty streets of LA.
I don’t own previous editions of this film on home video, but my understanding is that the previous Blu-ray release left something to be desired, so this new 4K transfer should be a welcome improvement for fans. As always, you can probably find some little things to nitpick, but in general, this is a presentation that’s as close to the original theatrical experience as you’re going to get at home. And, yes, the included Blu-ray uses the improved transfer too.
Like I said, there’s nothing new among the bonus features, which are also available in the digital edition included here too, except the commentary track. Here’s what you’ll find:
• Commentary by director Antoine Fuqua: This is a solid track that has some slow spots, but it’s the closest you’re going to come to a making-of documentary right now. It’s definitely worth a listen, especially if you’re a fan of the film.
• The Making of Training Day (15 minutes): This is a cursory overview of the making of the film. It was originally created for HBO, so don’t expect any major revelations here. However, there is a nice moment where this featurette examines Denzel Washington’s decision to take on such a morally complex character, given his tradition of mostly immersing himself in good guy roles until that point.
• Deleted scenes and alternate ending (17 minutes): I lumped these together because they’re interesting to watch but none of them come across as, “This should have still been in the movie.” The alternate ending is really just a slightly different twist on the closing moments of the film; I can see where Fuqua wanted to go for a slightly more ambiguous ending, rather than wrap up every plot point with a neat-and-tidy bow.
A pair of music videos by Nelly and Pharoahe Monch, along with the theatrical trailer, round out the disc.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★