(Potential spoiler ahead, depending on how tightly or loosely you interpret the term.)
Five years ago Training Day was released on DVD. Though I like a lot of different kinds of movies, a cop drama isn’t something I usually make an effort to get quickly. Nevertheless, I had a feeling about it and picked it up when it was released.
I was glad I did. For exactly an hour and a half, it held me transfixed beyond what I’d ever experienced watching a film. The direction and production design were meticulous, and everybody was absolutely acting their asses off. Denzel Washington’s Alonzo Harris was the most seductive monster I’d ever met on the screen. “This is to the L.A. street what The Godfather is to Cosa Nostra,” I was ready to say.
Then it happened. I’d been subjected to the too-convenient “wrap-up” before, of course, but given the unwavering excellence to this point, this one hurt much worse. The entire plot turned on a coincidence so ridiculous, the film would have only been marginally more degraded had Pauly Shore turned up in a kingpin role. I thought “oh, nooooooo. This can’t be happening.” But it was. I won’t say any more about the nature of the plot point, but it dropped this film from my all-time top 10 to somewhere in the low 100s.
You know what makes it even worse? Training Day largely recovers after that moment. Just a bit more care with the screenplay makes this one of the finest films of all time; instead it’s just good. What a shame.