Crossing the Line
October 12, 2001
Urban crime and the line-crossing police officers who control it have always been a hot topic. The issue is visited once again in Warner Brother’s film Training Day, a new morality tale exploring the substantial gray area that sits astride undercover law enforcement and the streets. Written by South Central Los Angeles native David Ayer, it is no coincidence that this film connotes the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, whose misbehavior has been chronicled in recent years by Rolling Stone and other publications. It is also no coincidence that the dramatic Denzel Washington is the star of the film, exercising his considerable acting talents as a man simmering on the edge. Washington plays LAPD Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, a veteran who has invested far too much time in the gutter in his attempts to get his job done as an undercover police officer in the city. The movie traces the one day that Harris spends with a trainee, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), and Hoyt’s attempts to prove to Harris that he has what it takes to make it in the squadron. Trailers emphasize the roller-coaster ride that Hoyt will endure in that one day, as his idealism crashes violently against Harris’s reality, so expect lots of morality tales that question what officers should do when confronted by a sea of crime, or when their only option is to become brutal criminals themselves in order to be effective at all. The advanced buzz is that while Antoine Fuqua’s direction remains rooted in the flashy music video genre, at the very least, he does not get in the way of the mega-watt star power of Washington and Hawke, whose performances make the movie a worthwhile experience, if not the compelling and gritty reality tale promised.