Boasting a marvellous performance from Denzel Washington, Training Day is a gritty police corruption thriller, heavily influenced by the classic cop films of the 1970s. Washington plays LAPD Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris, a narcotics veteran who has to baby-sit young rookie Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) to decide if he shows enough potential to be accepted into an elite street crime unit. It becomes apparent to Hoyt early in his training day (hence the title, natch) that Harris' methods are questionable, as he only barely manages to stay on the right side of the law.
Although the characterisations might be as old as the hills (older cynic paired with an idealistic rookie), for the majority of its running time, Training Day is a finely honed affair, thrilling but grounded in realism. The reversion to clichés that dog the genre in the final thirty minutes tarnish what has gone before it, but the performances of Hawke (who hasn't been this good in years) and especially Washington make Training Day extremely watchable stuff. Indeed, there's scant justice in the world if Washington doesn't finally win a Best Actor Oscar this year.