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July 20, 2002

Denzel Washington. Ethan Hawke.

Training Day. Denzel deserved his Oscar win. I'm just as surprised as you are. I had heard that this was a routine police film about an out-of-control cop and a newby. Which it was. But somehow Denzel is such an acting stud that anything that comes out of his mouth has this sort of power that mere mortals can't possibly match. Hawke is not my favorite guy, but he leaves behind 'author-smart-guy Hawke' to play a new guy, eager to make a good impression and provide for his family. The fact that he isn't acted off the screen is a testament to his skill. Denzel is powerful as a guy in charge of a group of narco cops in L.A. He bends and breaks the rules with impunity. He stares at his young charge and seems to be making up dialogue on the spot. I believed that he was from the streets of L.A. He swaggered like the homies he was arresting. He went from being a serious role model cop, to funny jokester in a single breath.

The film crumbles under a single coincidence that couldn't possibly happen, which is the only thing keeping this from being something special. We know how its going to end and it ends exactly that way.

Watch this for the performances. Not just of Denzel and Ethan, but of Macy Gray and Dr Dre and Snoop Dog. Great acting, not-so-great story.

Denzel Washington won the Best Actor of 2001 from the Academy Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and was nominated for a SAG Award.
Ethan Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor of 2001 by the Academy Awards and SAG.

6.2 A Critical Consensus


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