Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Tables Have Turned

Denzel Washington (black cop-Alonzo Harris) a corrupt LA police officer and (white cop-Ethan Hawke) Jake Hoyt are yet another view of the buddy cop pairing in the Hollywood film industry. Hoyt is the typical white cop back story; he is a new recruit looking to become a part of Harris' narcotics unit. The entire movie takes place over a single 24-hour period in Los Angeles that forever changes the lives of both officers. After doing some additional research I discovered that the movie was written by David Ayer and directed by Antoine Fuqua, both of whom grew up in gang neighborhoods because of this background I think that the premise of this story was not only to show once again another version of the buddy cop relationship but also address the issues of gangs in LA, corruption in the police units, and racial stereotypes.

Race plays a huge role in Training Day when it comes to which cops knows how to behave in the streets. This idea is constantly reinforced in Jake by Alonzo who calls him deragtory names and constantly reminds him of his whiteness. One scene that stuck out in my mind because it should other white characters besides Jake was when Alonzo pulled over the white kids for drugs; being sure to remind them that the neighborhood isn’t meant for white kids.

Detective Harris back story was similar to Danny Glovers character in Lethal Weapon in the fact that they are both veterans to the force, they have a family that they would do anything for, and they are both put in charge of the young white male cop who he is supposed to mentor. Harris is a thirteen-year veteran who decides to give Hoyt a chance to join his team with a one-day tour of the streets. Once again the typical buddy cop format: the two cops meet, with the veteran cop being rude to the younger inexperienced cop:

Alonzo: “Today's a training day, Officer Hoyt. Show you around, give you a taste of the business. I got 38 cases pending trial, 63 in active investigations, another 250 on the log I can't clear. I supervise five officers. That's five different personalities. Five sets of problems. You can be number six if you act now. But I ain't holding no hands, okay? I ain't baby-sitting. You got today and today only to show me who and what you're made of. You don't like narcotics, get the fuck out of my car. Go get you a nice, pussy desk job, chasing bad checks or something, you hear me?”

The tough guy attitude of Harris gave me a different element of cop films that caused me to question whether or not this is a standard buddy cop film. It had most of the elements chase scene, gun scene, the first meeting, getting to know each other, etc but what changed in this film was making one of the cops crooked. Hoyt soon begins to figure out that his mentor, is more like the scum drug sellers on the street. Now the veteran cop has crossed the line between right and wrong. As the quote says on the movie cover “The only thing more dangerous than the line being crossed is the cop who will cross it.” Alonzo abuses his authority taking it upon himself to impose his own immoral beliefs to the people on the streets. Now this maybe a stretch, but I drew a similarity between Detective Mills killing John Doe as being similar to the way in which Alonzo takes it into his own hands to decide what is right and wrong in the streets of LA (however I felt Mills had a more justifiable reason for taking justice into his own hands).

One other element that added to the movie was the music and the area in which it was shot. The streets that they drove through on the drug busts were actually real streets where gang members in LA hung out. This made the movie feel more realistic because the areas being portrayed and the things that they were filming was enlightening the audience. As a side note I thought the best part in the movie was when the street members told Jake they got his back pointing a gun at Alonzo showing that they were able to look past the color of his skin because they knew deep down he was the good cop.


Blogger Vladigogo said...

Yes, they know Jake is the good cop, but he is still a cop in their neighborhood. They had the perfect chance to get rid of him and they don't. They could have blamed it all on Alonzo.

I find the comment about Mills and Alonzo interesting. I wonder if instead the real connection is between Alonzo and John Doe in terms of how they think what they are doing is the right thing--they are making things better for everyone else, even if they have to do something wrong.

9:04 PM  

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