If a movie as unsuccessful as ‘towards freedom‘ shows something (it shows many, but we really care about this one) is that Antoine Fuqua doesn’t have much of a knack for “elevated” or prestigious drama and more for a adult entertainment with a bias thrash. The film works best when addressing the most urgent and even tacky survival, which is not often.
This is constant in his career, with many films marked by a B-movie essence that he makes with a lot of pulse and character. It doesn’t always come out, of course, because it has a certain irregularity. Even the recent ‘endless‘ It still hurts the eyes. But even her most acclaimed film maintains low-lying urban roots that keep her as a a remarkable movie. This is ‘Training Day’.
His most memorable work can be recovered through HBO Max and enters fully into the heart of danger. Ethan Hawke plays a cop on his first day in the narcotics department who falls under the wing of Sergeant Alonzo Harris, played by an imperial Denzel Washington who won a well-deserved Oscar for his work. The police rounds are not going to be as imagined, with Alonzo showing a corrupt and dangerous character that can explode into the air at any moment.
This duly constructed boiler situation forms the asphalt jungle that gives personality and life to a film designed for subvert crime buddy films. Here the differences in character do not make a fun couple, but rather generate fear. Washington’s commanding presence and Hawke’s well-measured vulnerability create the perfect contrast that calls into question toxic masculinity in law enforcement.
It does this while still being a hard-hitting film and also classic on her testosterone. Very heir to the hard-line thrillers of William Friedkin and partly of Michael Mann, with David Ayer seeing how the ideas of his script flow more naturally than in any of his films directed by himself. Fuqua measures moments of tension well, creating a stale atmosphere that is sometimes difficult to breathe.
‘Training Day’: movies with a trade
But that discomfort it produces is of the best kind, creating a volcanic sensation that can explode at any moment. Even deviations from the plot with certain secondary characters like Scott Glenn or Snoop Dogg are not distracting, but rather contribute to creating a good ecosystem that brings the film to life. Fuqua is able to create great moments where you can’t stop looking at the scene.
Even with a few bumps in the road, ‘Training Day’ lands big with an ending that fulfills all the promises it cements. The actors give their all to propel into situations where tension can be cut with a knife, and Fuqua never loses his pulse or is tempted to make the film more than it needs to be. The acclaim came to him only through his good office, it was not sought. A professionally made tape that does not renounce its basic condition but rather makes more use of it than most would be capable of.