We often look at classic movies from our childhood with a rose-colored lens that helps us ignore the obvious flaws a movie might have, or I am just being pessimistic. Regardless of the answer, you think it is. The movie Training Day turns twenty this year. So as I dove headfirst into this classic movie. I realized that this movie will forever have a place in my heart.
What I enjoyed the most about Antoine Fuqua’s crime thriller is the introduction of Jake Hoyt. Often, in movies like this. We usually see the straight edge characters descent into the criminal underworld, whereas this usually crystal white character becomes infected by the criminal underbelly. But in this movie, we see the exact opposite.
Jake Hoyt was a rookie officer looking to become a detective and help join the fight with aspirations of becoming his sergeant. His introduction to detective Alonzo Harris who turns out to be the most corrupted police officer in LA helps to introduce the differences between the two and explains why they will be natural opposites of each other. He kills, robs, uses, and sells drugs, and will murder anyone in his way to accomplish his goals. Which in parallel we see officer Hoyt who is strict and by the books. You’d think this would become some buddy cop film, but in reality, this movie becomes a deep dive into the psyche of Alonzo Harris.
It does become nauseating that along with many movies of this era. The depiction of an “ evil “ black man is hitting its usual stereotypical stride, while the white man is considered the savior and the hero of this story. Drugs and gang violence rule Harris’s world, but that was because the writers had to make him the bad guy in some way, but didn’t want to get creative in their way in doing it. So instead they make Harris be a narcissist and a maniac, which is done perfectly. But it does not help that the protagonist is a straight Christian, married, white man, from North Hollywood. So you can see early on the stereotypes playing heavily into the writing of this movie.
Another aspect of writing that seems very dated for the movie, is all of the dialogue famous rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were given. It seems that Snoop Dogg has become a very steady household name for moviegoers. But the issue with Snoop Dogg in movies is just like The Rock, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, John Cena, and other celebrity first actors. They are constantly typed cast into roles that only they can do. But, for some BIGGER reason. Dr. Dre was given some of the most generic and vomit-inducing lines you will have ever seen. Does it almost seem like Dre recorded his lines while no one else was there and is somehow, off-beat?
But, similarly. Snoop Dogg has to ALWAYS say “ dog “ at least four or five times regardless of the movie he is in, while Dre seems like a corny gang banger who is never meant to be interesting or even good. But while I can go on and on about Dre and Snoop. I want to add that, Eva Mendes has been the same character in almost every movie she has mostly been in. The misogynistic lens of the writers and directors came in full power as her character was left with few lines, ( some incomplete Spanish with no subtitles) but she is just a random attractive, Spanish wife, that is overly protective of her husband or son and is stereotypically written as Dre and Snoop.
But one thing the movie does well plays the setting up to what it might have felt like to be in LA during the early 2000s. Time-appropriate clothing and colors played for the setting very well, and the custom choices for everyone involved were perfect. Harris did look like a crooked cop // pimp while Hoyt looked like a rookie sticking out like a sore thumb regardless of the situation.
As I look back at the movie. For what it is worth the movie is a good movie. It is easy to see flaws within the writing and directing while we put on our 2021 lenses. But in reality, for what this movie was trying to accomplish for its time. It did its job perfectly, and it is a great timepiece of the direction movies were going towards in the early 2000s.