While actors like Keanu Reeves always make a big splash, the truth is that nobody does action or thrillers quite as well as Denzel Washington. And if you like Denzel, then you probably can’t get enough of his filmography. Fortunately, you can now stream his greatest thriller (and some would say his greatest film, period), Training Day, on Max.
Denzel Washington‘s best movie, Training Day, sees the star playing the villain.
If you’re a Denzel Washington fan who has never watched Training Day, the plot of this killer thriller is quite simple: Washington plays a veteran detective who is charged with showing a young cop how things work on the streets.
It doesn’t take long for the young officer to realize that his mentor is not all that he seems to be, and our characters end up in a race for their lives against powerful forces who won’t hesitate to destroy them. And even if our characters can escape with their lives, it’s quite clear they may not be able to escape with their souls intact.
While Denzel Washington is the big draw for this film (there’s a reason his biggest fans consider this his best work), you should know that Training Day is chock full of great actors.
Ethan Hawke plays the rookie cop that Denzel takes under his wing, and the movie has plenty of familiar faces, including Eva Mendes and Terry Crews. One of the most notable things about the cast is that it features plenty of musical talent: Macy Gray, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg all have roles in this film, and it’s wild to see some of our favorite singers turn in surprisingly great onscreen performances.
Because of all that musical talent in Denzel Washington’s epic film, you may not be surprised to hear that Training Day also has one banger soundtrack. After it was released, the movie’s soundtrack ended up number 35 on the Billboard 200, and two of its singles took the world by storm. Those singles were Dr. Dre and DJ Quik’s “Put It on Me” and Nelly’s “#1.”
Denzel Washington won a Best Actor Oscar for Training Day, while Ethan Hawke was nominated as Best Supporting Actor.
And while the wild events of Denzel Washington’s character were not explicitly based on a true story, the general concepts behind the film were inspired by the Rampart Scandal, which was a major scandal concerning the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division. The inspiration was deep enough that Denzel decided to grow a beard so that he might better resemble Rafael Pérez, a corrupt LAPD at the heart of the scandal.
This helped fuel the producers’ powerful idea that police corruption is often not a matter of good cops going rogue out of the blue so much as good cops getting corrupted by the system they are a part of.
Between the sheer acting skills of Denzel Washington, the tight script from David Ayer, and the awesome directing of Antoine Fuqua, Training Day proved to be a major hit. At the box office, it grossed a cool $104.9 million against a budget of $45 million. It was successful enough to later spawn a television series inspired by the film, though that series was canceled after only one year in large part because of the unexpected death of series star Bill Paxton.
If Denzel Washington’s Training Day was a major success with audiences, it was an absolute smash hit with critics. The film currently has 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning that it is certified “fresh.” It also has an 89 percent rating from general audiences, which goes to show just how beloved the movie really is.
A Training Day prequel film, without Denzel Washington, was greenlit by Warner Bros in 2022, and takes place during the 1992 Rodney King riots.
The film went on to receive a number of prestigious awards, including Denzel Washington receiving an Academy Award for Best Actor (Ethan Hawke was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, though he didn’t win the award). And while the Training Day TV series didn’t last very long, fan enthusiasm for the franchise has remained high.
High enough, in fact, for Warner Bros. to greenlight a prequel to the movie that went into production in 2022, though the recent Hollywood strikes have likely indefinitely delayed this film.
Ultimately, Denzel Washington is one of the best actors in the business, and Training Day is one of the finest films we have ever seen. To experience the hype for yourself, you can now stream the movie on Max. Just don’t blame us if you end up blasting the soundtrack to the rest of your friends all week.