The basic consensus in the hood is that you always root for the bad guy. No matter if it was Tony Montana, Nino Brown, O-Dog, Doughboy – or even Darth Vader for you hood nerds – if you didn’t root for the bad guy, we were going to be looking at you sideways for a minute trying to figure out where you were coming from and what you represented. Now, I could go into a whole philosophical lesson as to why we lean towards “the dark side,” but that’s better left for another time.
That same courtesy, however, can’t be extended to Detective Alonzo Harris in Training Day. Displaying characteristics that are more animal than man, Alonzo (Denzel Washington) spent the entire movie bullying and setting up his new partner, officer Jake Hoyt; backstabbing old friends; intimidating associates; using his baby son as a decoy in a shootout; and basically doing any and everything necessary in order to ensure his own survival. He demonstrated no remorse, no morality and no mercy (like the Cobra Kai). He wasn’t just a crooked cop, he was a malicious man.
And it all culminated to this classic scene where the man got his comeuppance at the hands of his timid partner who’s been pushed to the edge by Alonzo’s treacherous ways.
Having took the money that Alonzo cut many-a-throat to get in order to pay off Russian mobsters, Jake (Ethan Hawke) is in a standoff with a master manipulator in the middle of the famous jungles of L.A. Without the money, Jake can’t put Zo away for his many crimes against humanity (one of them mistreating his baby mama, Eva “Ave Maria” Mendez), but if Zo gets his hands on it, not only does he buy his life from the Russians, but he gets away with murder – literally – scot-free.
Even with a gun drawn on him, Alonzo sustains his defiant character and dares Jake to pull the trigger. After realizing Jake isn’t “man” enough to pull the trigger, he asks someone from the crowd to do his dirt for him and murk the anxious cop. That’s when the reality he created with his malevolent demeanor begins to hit him.
OG Bones let’s the crooked cop know, “You got us twisted, homie. You gotta put your own work in around here.”
Not only is that as real as it gets, but who’d want to help the bane of their existence continue to be a presence in their life? That’s what Alonzo became to the people around him. He was a curse. Once he realized he was on his own, in true manipulative form, Alonzo went from being condescending with Jake to being Big Daddy Kane smooth with him. “Player to player. Pimp to pimp!”
But even after playing mind games with Jake with threats of getting the chair for shooting a cop in the back, Zo still takes one in the butt like Gravy outside of Hot 97 and then goes into b*tch mode and tries begging for the money so he could go home. Fearing that Jake would cave, OG Bones takes his own gun and squared it dead on Alonzo and told Jake to bounce, “We got ya back.” A block filled with gangbangers who would rather ride with the honest cop than the crooked one says a lot.
Recognizing that he had no friends, no support and no respect from the people he ruled with an iron fist, Zo’s true colors came out, going on a rant, as if Taylor Swift beat Beyonce for another MTV Award. From calling them “disloyal” to threatening them with prison time, shoe programs and 23-hour lockdowns, Zo’s tirade would’ve made Michael Richards proud (why, Kramer?). It all led to the line that probably sealed his Oscar victory for him, “King Kong ain’t got sh*t on me!” (Academy Award in the backpocket). He said this knowing that he was nothing more than a walking/talking dead man, whose promises held as much credibility as Dwight Howard’s in Orlando. But, the man being as arrogant and as defiant as he was, he continued to drink his own Tiger-Aid saying, “I’m winning any muthaf*ckin’ way. I can’t lose.” And he didn’t. He got the gold in the end (but a bullet at the end of the movie).
You can’t front on Denzel’s performance as the embodiment of all that is wrong with man. Driven by greed, and ruled by pride, Alonzo Harris was a man that was easily despised by anyone who had a shred of principals. He was a self-made monster that ruled through fear, exploitation and violence; but, worst of all, he did it behind a badge. In the end, not only was Detective Alonzo Harris a man who couldn’t be trusted, but he also couldn’t be rooted for either.