Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Training Day

I find this movie fascinating. I didn't know what it was going to be about at first ... and after I watched it the first time I didn't like it that much. It grew on me though ... however there are some parts that I would disagree with. I cannot stand the casting of rappers in these types of movies. Dr. Dre as a crooked undercover cop wearing a Rough Riders "RR" pin on his demin jacket. Snoop Dogg as a crack dealer in a wheel chair ... thoroughly unconvincing. These people need to stay out of real movies and leave acting up to actors. Hell, it is a small enough part ... why not give some unknown the chance of having 5 minutes of fame. This is the same problem that has plagued some other movies ... I noticed in Gone in 60 Seconds they used Master P as one of the villains. This is a stupid idea. Master P is not an actor ... his rap sells, but if he wants to be in a movie he should make one himself. I don't know what the hell Hollywood is thinking. Perhaps they are going for the "street credibility" angle. However with these rappers turned actors I feel that they would be more at home in a Spa then on the street corner. Refer to the the above statement about "unconvincing".

Ethan Hawke is not a particularly good actor, either. It amazes me that he won an Oscar nomination for this film, and it is Denzel Washington that carries him through. I don't dislike the character, I just think they could have used someone better to pull it off. I can see what they were going for with the upright new rookie, determined to make a good impression and try to elevate his status to detective. However it is the end of the movie where he really stands up for himself that seems unconvincing to me. The first part of the movie where he plays a puppet being played he does just fine, wandering around with a clueless look and a general lack of understanding about the streets he has been supposedly patrolling for a year.

Ok, now that that is out of the way there is a lot to like about this movie. Don't let the above fool you the reason you go and watch the movie is because of two words: Alonzo Harris. This dude is bad. I mean it. A powerful character that is beautifully pulled off. I doubt the writer in his wildest dreams imagined the character being this well done. He is tough, street smart, knows all the hip hop street slang lingo, and is armed to the teeth. A ruthless and powerful leader his a warlord in modern clothing. Supporting him are a villainous assemble of detective hopefuls that he has bent to his will with a promise of a handful of confiscated wealth and dreams of a detective position.

The other two selling points are the intresting settings the movie is shot in, and the lingo used in a lot of the dialogue.

The setting is crime infested east Los Angeles, home of the killer streets of Compton. The locals they use for shooting the movie are genuine, and add a nice flavor to the movie that you wouldn't get if it was shot on movie sets.

The street slang used in the movie is also intresting. I noticed during parts of the movie that Alonzo was refering to red clad gang bangers as "Damus" ... this is street slang for "Blood" on e of the major LA street gangs. It comes from the Swahili language, and in which damu means blood. Denzel speaks the language effortlessly ... although it must have taken a lot of working with the script.